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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

    Freelance Writer

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    Last Updated on May 22, 2019

    10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

    10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

    There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

    One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

    In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

    Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

    1. Cat Camel Stretch

    Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

    Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

    Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

    Here’s a video to guide you through:

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    2. Go for a Walk or a Run

    This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

    Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

    The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

    Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

    Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

    3. Jumping Jacks

    Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

    Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

    4. Abductor Side Lifts

    Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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    Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

    5. Balancing Table Pose

    This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

    Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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      6. Leg Squats

      Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

      Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

      The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

      7. Push Ups

      You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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      An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

      Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

      This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

      8. Bicycle Crunches

      There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

      Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

      9. Lunges

      Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

      Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

      This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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      10. Bicep Curls

      You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

      Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

      Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

      Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

      Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

      These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

      You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

      Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

      More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

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