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Biology, Sport

Squat or sit?

I’m not very good at sitting at my desk at work. I have a sit-stand desk so that helps, but I still fidget a lot. I use a wobble board and I’ve recently added squatting in. I started this because I’m working on a couple figure skating moves that require, basically, a one legged deep squat and I finally have some old injuries healing that give me the range of motion back. But yesterday there was a press release that talked about the health benefits of squatting and kneeling.

Yuzuru Hanyu hydroblading
Photo by David W. Carmichael CC-BY-3.0

Rachlan et al (2020) studied a community of hunter-gatherers and found that while they were more active than those of us with industrialized life styles, they did have large periods of inactivity. Obviously, there are a bunch of differences but one is how different individuals rest. Many of us, myself included, tend to rest in a sitting position. Most of my body is supported by the furniture. But the individuals in the hunter-gatherer community rested by squatting or kneeling. Resting is important because we do need to recoup our energy but the researchers found that muscles are lightly active when squatting or kneeling compared to sitting. Therefore, the individuals in the study community are more active, if only lightly so, when resting. Correlated to this, was an absence of a lot of the markers of poor health that have been linked to sitting.

While I still have a bunch of questions like are the periods of inactivity as long or broken up into smaller segments and are there people who rest in squatting or kneeling positions in more industrialized environments and do they show the same improved health markers? I think this is an interesting piece. It’s not that we need to be active all the time, it’s more that we could be resting different. So perhaps I need a bigger range of heights on my sit-stand desk so that it could be a kneel-squat-sit-stand desk? In the meantime, I’ll continue to add in squatting as a resting position mostly so I can get the moves I want, but if it happens to have some health benefits I won’t complain.

About Tai Munro

I am passionate about making science, sustainability, and sport accessible through engaging information and activities.


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