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For Easier Pooping: Is Squatting Really Better Than Sitting?

For Easier Pooping: Is Squatting Really Better Than Sitting?

Does posture really matter when going to the bathroom?

It is an unfortunate fact that many adults living in Western countries have experienced problems when passing stools and with their gastrointestinal health in general. Among the most common of the digestion-related conditions are hemorrhoids, with around half of the American population suffering from symptoms of this ailment which include soreness and bleeding from the rectum. Constipation is another problem that afflicts many people living in economically well-developed countries. In short, people with access to modern bathroom facilities often appear afflicted with complaints that were not so often seen in the past and are not often widespread in less developed areas of the world. This has led some experts to speculate that the widespread adoption of the modern Western toilet has contributed to the prevalence of digestive disorders in affluent countries.

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Is squatting a more natural and healthy position compared with sitting?

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squatting vs sitting
    Image credit: Vincent Ho/Western Sydney University via The Conversation. CC BY-ND 4.0

    The most widely-used argument in favor of squatting rather than sitting to pass bowel movements focuses on the angle of the rectum in each position. When a person sits on a toilet, their rectum is folded over, which means that some straining is usually required in order to successfully pass stools. However, squatting allows this angle to straighten out. This means that gravity can play a useful role in aiding with bowel evacuation. Daniel Lametti, a neuroscientist who wrote an article on the debate for Slate, believes that there is plenty of evidence to suggest that squatting is preferable to sitting on the basis that it may well reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids. He personally tested the theory for a period of one week and reported that he spent much less time on the toilet each morning in a squatting rather than a seated position.

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    The diagram above shows why squatting may work to your advantage when passing stools. Seating in the posture modeled by the figure on the left allows the puborectalis muscle to contract around the external sphincter, which means that more straining is required to pass bowel movements. However, squatting as the figure on the right is doing loosens the puborectalis, allowing the descent of the pelvic floor and the easier passing of feces.

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    How to convert your toilet to facilitate squatting

    If you would like to experiment with a change in posture when it comes to using the toilet, there are a few options open to you. If you are flexible and able to hold your balance, you can try a perching squatted position. You may wish to hold onto something sturdy the first couple of times to make sure that you don’t fall off! Alternatively, you could place a chair in front of the toilet and rest your feet on it so that your posture is closer to a squat-like pose.

    If you have less faith in your balance and want a convenient solution, you could invest in a specially-designed device to help you adopt a squatting position. The Squatty Potty was designed by the Edwards family from Utah, who wanted an easy-to-use solution that would allow anyone to turn their toilet into an easy place upon which to squat. It requires no complex fitting and is simply placed around the bottom of any standard toilet. The makers have worked with many prototypes to ensure that their product is the “perfect height, shape and design to work with any toilet.”

    Why squatting isn’t a cure-all

    The extent to which our bathroom posture is linked to various diseases is still open to debate. However, we do know that no change in position will compensate for a poor diet and other unhealthy lifestyle choices. In order to stand the best chance of passing stools comfortably, you need to eat a diet rich in fiber. Include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on a regular basis. This will ensure that your bowel movements are of the right consistency, which will help reduce the need to strain when you go to the toilet. Another important factor is hydration. Make sure that you drink plenty of fluids, as this also works in reducing the time it takes for stools to pass through the rectum.

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    Jay Hill

    Jay writes about communication and happiness on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

    Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

    1. Exercise Daily

    It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

    If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

    Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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    If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

    2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

    Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

    One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

    This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

    3. Acknowledge Your Limits

    Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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    Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

    Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

    4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

    Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

    The basic nutritional advice includes:

    • Eat unprocessed foods
    • Eat more veggies
    • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
    • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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    Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

      5. Watch Out for Travel

      Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

      This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

      If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

      6. Start Slow

      Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

      If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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      7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

      Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

      My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

      If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

      I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

      Final Thoughts

      Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

      Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

      More Tips on Getting in Shape

      Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

      Reference

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