Rudi Zimmerer

Squats improve your brain

Squats are one of the best exercises around for improving brain function. “You don’t need to be huffing and puffing and really pushing yourself hard in the gym to target certain parts of the brain,” explains Prof Damian Bailey from the University of South Wales. “You can do some really neat little exercises that don’t really feel like you’re exercising at all and which stimulate the brain really quite remarkable; you can be smart for the brain – it’s about intelligent exercise.”

Prof Bailey has found that just three to five minutes, three times a week can be even better for your brain than 30 minutes of steady-state exercise, like a run or a walk.

Going against gravity.
In an experiment, Prof Bailey attached blood-flow measuring equipment to participants’ brains as they did squats. He says the sound of blood flow was the first clue as to why squats might be having such a big effect on the brain: “They didn’t look as if they were doing a great deal, but you could hear this huge washing of blood moving into the brain.”

As you squat, you move your head up and down against gravity. Your blood vessels attempt to buffer changes in blood pressure and act like shock absorbers in the brain. But the system is not perfect. As you go up and down, the blood flow speeds up and slows down quite drastically. “It is really quite remarkable,” declares Prof Bailey. He discovered that it was this unique type of blood flow in the brain that was responsible for the benefits.

Release the “good soldiers”
You might think of blood vessels as inert tubes – a type of plumbing – but that’s far from being the case. Each blood vessel has its own live inner layer that responds to changes in things like blood flow and releases a wealth of chemicals. As your vessels work hard to keep your brain well-supplied with oxygen, the cells in the live inner lining release good molecules that act like fertilizer for the brain. These “good soldiers”, as Damian calls them, move into the brain tissue and stimulate new connections, new neurons, and new cells, working ultimately to make you just that little bit smarter.

In other words, as Damian says, “Squats can lead to the growth of new brain cells!” By adding more squats into your routine, you can maximize the release of these good soldiers and lead to the growth of new brain cells.

It’s never too late to start
If you haven’t been doing much exercise, don’t fret, because those who are not as fit get the biggest brain benefits from this exercise because their brains are not as used to cushion the changes in blood flow. The more fluctuations in blood flow, the more good chemicals are released.

How to Do Squats?
Do squats the right way to protect yourself from getting injured. Poor form can take a toll on your spine and knees over time.

The right way to do a squat is to:

Stand with your feet apart and parallel to each other.
Place your hands on your thighs or straight in front of you.
Look up and lift your chest.
Bend your knees to a 90-degree angle, putting all your weight on your heels and sitting back slowly.
Your knees shouldn’t go much beyond your toes, and your head and chest should stay upright.
Hold the position for 5 seconds.
Rise back up, pressing through your heels, and straighten your hips back to the starting position.

Doing squats in the right way for the Yoga…
Both feet should be parallel and in touch with each other or the feet should be aligned with the shoulders.
And you do finally 20 to 30 squats, after you have exercised them a lot.

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