Squats. An integral part of any workout. Be it in a fitness class, at the gym, or basically any training regime. We’ve all done them to burn calories while strengthening the core and muscles in the lower body. And there are a wonderful number of variations. We also see kids squatting up and down as soon as they can stand on their little feet.
But did you know – squats are also good for brain health?
(your kids are up and down boosting their little brain cells!)
Dr Damien Bailey from the Neurovascular Research Lab, University of South Wales, has conducted research on which exercise is best as a countermeasure to neurodegeneration, as there is no curative treatment.
The study found that for people that aren’t in particularly great shape, can’t exercise, or perform anything that’s exertional, a controlled squat can be a very useful intervention to boost brain function.
This result is important and relevant to all of us. Squats improve mental ability and cognition, problem solving and memory and learning.
But how? And why (out of all the choices) are they the best form of exercise for brain health?
Basically, the up and down movement in a squat, going with gravity as you go down, and against gravity as you go up, makes the blood swing from high to low. It results in a unique flow of blood to the brain.
Professor Bailey has researched that just three to five minutes of squatting three times a week can be better for your brain than 30 minutes of running or walking. (BBC)
If you think about it, the chair pose, or ‘half squat’ as a fundamental pose in any traditional yoga sequence, to steady the body and still the mind. The ‘ancients’ knew perhaps there was something to it, and now we have science to back it up!
Check out this BBC reel presented by Professor Bailey for more info, and get squatting: