Squat exercises aren’t just for athletes. You can do them as part of your regular exercise routine.
They strengthen your lower body, targeting your glutes and quadriceps.
They also make you use your core muscles.
Other muscles that benefit from squats are:
Squats burn calories and might help you lose weight.
They also lower your chances of injuring your knees and ankles. As you exercise, the movement strengthens your tendons, bones, and ligaments around the leg muscles. It takes some of the weight off your knees and ankles.
They help make your knees more stable, too.
What’s more, squats may also help boost your bone mineral density for stronger bones. It adds strength to your skeleton, mainly in the spine and lower body.
Squats improve your flexibility, too. As you become older, your tendons, muscles, and ligaments become less elastic. Regularly doing squats can help slow down this process and limber you up.
Squats help you feel and look good. Squatting helps shape up your legs and butt since it targets the glute and inner thigh muscles. As your buttocks become firm, your posture and balance might improve.
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.
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 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.
Repeat five times.
Squats are one of the most effective strength-training exercises around. If you’re not working out already, talk to your doctor before you get started. They can let you know if squats are safe for you to do. You might also want to think about working with a professional strength trainer, who can make sure you’re using the right form.
Do you want to prevent back pain? Try these exercises to stretch and strengthen your back and supporting muscles. Repeat each exercise a few times, then increase the repetitions as the exercise gets easier.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor (A). Using both hands, pull up one knee and press it to your chest (B). Tighten your abdominals and press your spine to the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg (C). Return to the starting position and then repeat with both legs at the same time (D). Repeat each stretch 2 to 3 times — preferably once in the morning and once at night.
Lower back rotational stretch
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor (A). Keeping your shoulders firmly on the floor, roll your bent knees to one side (B). Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Return to the starting position (C). Repeat on the opposite side (D). Repeat each stretch 2 to 3 times — preferably once in the morning and once at night.
Lower back flexibility exercise
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor (A). Tighten your abdominal muscles so your stomach pulls away from your waistband (B). Hold for five seconds and then relax. Flatten your back, pulling your bellybutton toward the floor (C). Hold for five seconds and then relax. Repeat. Start with five repetitions each day and gradually work up to 30.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor (A). Keeping your shoulders and head relaxed on the floor, tighten your abdominal and gluteal muscles. Then raise your hips to form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders (B). Try to hold the position long enough to complete three deep breaths. Return to the starting position and repeat. Start with five repetitions each day and gradually work up to 30.
Position yourself on your hands and knees (A). Slowly arch your back, as if you’re pulling your abdomen up toward the ceiling (B). Then slowly let your back and abdomen sag toward the floor (C). Return to the starting position (A). Repeat 3 to 5 times twice a day.
Seated lower back rotational stretch
Sit on an armless chair or a stool. Cross your right leg over your left leg. Bracing your left elbow against the outside of your right knee, twist and stretch to the side (A). Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side (B). Repeat this stretch 3 to 5 times on each side twice a day.
Shoulder blade squeeze
Sit on an armless chair or a stool (A). While maintaining good posture, pull your shoulder blades together (B). Hold for five seconds and then relax. Repeat 3 to 5 times twice a day.
More than 37 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and approximately 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but more and more children, teens, and young adults are also developing it.
What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?
Insulin is a hormone made by your pancreas that acts like a key to let blood sugar into the cells in your body for use as energy. If you have type 2 diabetes, cells don’t respond normally to insulin; this is called insulin resistance. Your pancreas makes more insulin to try to get cells to respond. Eventually your pancreas can’t keep up, and your blood sugar rises, setting the stage for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar is damaging to the body and can cause other serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.
Symptoms and Risk Factors
Type 2 diabetes symptoms often develop over several years and can go on for a long time without being noticed (sometimes there aren’t any noticeable symptoms at all). Because symptoms can be hard to spot, it’s important to know the risk factors and to see your doctor to get your blood sugar tested if you have any of them
Testing for Type 2 Diabetes
A simple blood test will let you know if you have diabetes. If you’ve gotten your blood sugar tested at a health fair or pharmacy, follow up at a clinic or doctor’s office to make sure the results are accurate.
Unlike many health conditions, diabetes is managed mostly by you, with support from your health care team (including your primary care doctor, foot doctor, dentist, eye doctor, registered dietitian nutritionist, diabetes educator, and pharmacist), family, and other important people in your life. Managing diabetes can be challenging, but everything you do to improve your health is worth it!
You may be able to manage your diabetes with healthy eating and being active, or your doctor may prescribe insulin, other injectable medications, or oral diabetes medicines to help manage your blood sugar and avoid complications. You’ll still need to eat healthy and be active if you take insulin or other medicines. It’s also important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol close to the targets your doctor sets for you and get necessary screening tests.
You’ll need to check your blood sugar regularly. Ask your doctor how often you should check it and what your target blood sugar levels should be. Keeping your blood sugar levels as close to target as possible will help you prevent or delay diabetes-related complications.
Stress is a part of life, but it can make managing diabetes harder, including managing your blood sugar levels and dealing with daily diabetes care. Regular physical activity, getting enough sleep, and relaxation exercises can help. Talk to your doctor and diabetes educator about these and other ways you can manage stress.
Make regular appointments with your health care team to be sure you’re on track with your treatment plan and to get help with new ideas and strategies if needed.
Whether you were just diagnosed with diabetes or have had it for some time, meeting with a diabetes educator is a great way to get support and guidance, including how to:
Develop a healthy eating and activity plan
Test your blood sugar and keep a record of the results
Recognize the signs of high or low blood sugar and what to do about it
If needed, give yourself insulin by syringe, pen, or pump
Monitor your feet, skin, and eyes to catch problems early
Buy diabetes supplies and store them properly
Manage stress and deal with daily diabetes care
Ask your doctor about diabetes self-management education and support services and to recommend a diabetes educator, or search the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists’ (ADCES) nationwide directoryexternal icon for a list of programs in your community.
Type 2 Diabetes in Children and Teens
Childhood obesity rates are rising, and so are the rates of type 2 diabetes in youth. More than 75% of children with type 2 diabetes have a close relative who has it, too. But it’s not always because family members are related; it can also be because they share certain habits that can increase their risk. Parents can help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by developing a plan for the whole family:
Drinking more water and fewer sugary drinks
Eating more fruits and vegetables
Making favorite foods healthier
Making physical activity more fun
Healthy changes become habits more easily when everyone makes them together. Find out how to take charge family style with these healthy tips.
Heart attacks are often stereotyped as something that happens to older men, not women. But heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States.1 Yet only about half (56%) of women know this.1
Plus, the way women experience a heart attack can feel different from men. While both men and women may have chest pain during a heart attack, women tend to have symptoms in addition to chest pain.
Researchers found that when women have a heart attack, they’re more likely to experience 3 or more related symptoms compared to men.2 These symptoms may include jaw pain, neck pain, back pain, and shortness of breath, and can make it hard for women to tell if they’re having a heart attack.
Women are also more likely than men to think their heart attack symptoms are caused by anxiety and stress.2 Oftentimes, this misunderstanding — combined with a wider range of symptoms — can cause women to wait longer to get treated.
“Several studies have shown that women wait longer to get treatment for a heart attack than men,” says Mingsum Lee, MD, a clinical cardiologist at Kaiser Permanente’s Los Angeles Medical Center.
So, it’s important to learn these symptoms of a heart attack and know when to seek care.
Heart attack warning signs for women
1. Chest pain
The most common heart attack symptom for women (and men) is chest pain. “About 90% of women and men have chest pain when they’re having a heart attack,” says Dr. Lee.
This chest pain and discomfort usually happens after stress — the stress can either be physical, like exercise, or emotional stress. The pain is usually strong, comes on gradually, and increases in intensity over several minutes.
“Typically, the pain feels very deep and it’s hard to localize or pinpoint,” says Dr. Lee. “People generally use terms like ‘pressure,’ ‘squeezing,’ ‘heaviness,’ or ‘tightness’ to describe the sensation in their chest.”
2. Arm, back, neck, or jaw pain
“Sometimes chest pain can radiate or travel through your arm, neck, jaw, or your back,” says Dr. Lee. The pain may gradually get more intense over several minutes.
Since most people expect pain to be in their chest during a heart attack, these symptoms can be very confusing. This is especially true because it may be difficult to pinpoint where the pain started.
3. Stomach pain
Nausea and stomach pain may also be heart attack warning signs for women. “Sometimes people come in late for care because they think they’re having heartburn or acid reflux,” says Dr. Lee. Heartburn or reflux comes from inflammation in the esophagus, which is right next to the heart. This can make it hard to tell if it’s discomfort from eating certain foods or a heart attack. “Generally speaking, heartburn can be triggered by certain spicy food, citrus, and alcohol,” she explains. And acid reflux feels worse when you lie down.
4. Shortness of breath
You might be having a heart attack if you suddenly have shortness of breath for no apparent reason. It may feel like you have to stop and catch your breath while doing an ordinary task. “For example, if you can normally do grocery shopping with no problem, but suddenly you can’t catch your breath while you’re walking down the grocery aisle and you have to stop to rest, that’s a warning sign,” says Dr. Lee.
Sudden sweating plus chest pain is another related heart attack symptom for women. You may feel like you’re having a cold sweat or feel clammy while also feeling some chest pain.
Similarly, chest pain with sudden fatigue and exhaustion may be a sign that you’re having a heart attack. You may feel overly tired for no reason — and the fatigue comes out of nowhere. Your regular activities suddenly become too difficult because you’re extremely tired.
Don’t hesitate to call 911
You might not have all of these heart attack warning signs. But if you’re having any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Don’t wait.
In her work, Dr. Lee has seen both younger and older women put off going to the doctor — even when they’re feeling heart attack symptoms. “Young women are often focused on being the caretaker for their children or elderly parents, and they don’t come into the hospital because there’s no one else to take care of their children or parents,” she says.
On the flip side, Dr. Lee has seen older women who are widowed and live alone not want to bother their children or friends. “These women may be having chest pain, but they don’t want to bother people. So they sit at home and hope the symptoms go away,” she says. Sometimes, they don’t drive and are too embarrassed to ask for help.
“I think a lot of times women are used to being the caregivers, so when they themselves need help they aren’t used to asking for it,” Dr. Lee says. This could be another reason why women wait so long to get care for heart attacks.
But it’s important to listen to your body and prioritize your health.
Bottom line: If you’re not sure if you’re having a heart attack, come into the hospital to get checked out. “The earlier you come in for medical care,” Dr. Lee says, “the earlier we can start therapy and the less damage there will be to the heart.”
Risk factors for heart attack in women
In addition to knowing key heart attack symptoms, it’s also important to know if you have risk factors for heart disease. “Many women aren’t aware that they’re at risk for heart attack,” explains Dr. Lee. “So when they start having symptoms, they don’t even consider that it’s a warning sign.”
Common risk factors for women include:
Certain medical conditions. Women are at higher risk for heart disease if they have diabetes, high blood pressure, or an inflammatory disease like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
Pregnancy complications. Women who had pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, or preeclampsia are at higher risk for heart attack later in life.
Smoking. Research shows that smoking can increase the risk of heart attack for young people by sevenfold.3 And female smokers are 25% more likely to have heart disease than male smokers.3
Lifestyle choices. Poor diet, overuse of alcohol, and physical inactivity all increase a woman’s risk for heart attack.
Menopause. Lower levels of estrogen after menopause can increase the risk of heart attack for women.
Understanding your risk factors and knowing common heart attack symptoms are important first steps in taking care of your heart.
Small acts of kindness can have a big impact. Not only does offering support to your loved ones show you care, but you can benefit from it, too. Studies show that helping others can reduce stress, increase happiness, and even help you live longer.
Here are 7 simple ways to connect with your loved ones — and let them know that you care.
1. Respond to “bids”
According to Dr. John Gottman, our loved ones will often make “bids” for our attention throughout the day. These bids are when a loved one says something like, “Want to see what I made during art class?” or “Take a look at this cute cat video.”
One good way to respond to bids is by active listening. You can show your loved one you’re actively listening by paying close attention to what they’re saying. Let them know you’re listening by nodding, smiling, or saying “I see.”
And don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure of what was said. These seemingly small interactions can let our loved ones know we truly care about what’s important to them.
2. Practice mindfulness
It can be easy to get distracted by multiple screens and to-do lists. So when you spend time with loved ones, make a point to limit interruptions. Put down your tablet or smartphone, and focus on staying present. Show up on time, actively listen, and avoid multitasking. If you don’t have a lot of time, consider having a 5- or 10-minute phone call. Giving your undivided attention will make your loved one feel valued and appreciated.
3. Lend a hand
We all need extra help from time to time — and that’s OK. You can show someone you care by offering to help when you think they might be struggling. If, for example, your sister just had a baby and is feeling overwhelmed, offer to run her errands or make her a home-cooked meal so she can get some much-needed rest.
4. Have an attitude of gratitude
Showing appreciation can make people feel good about what they do. How you show gratitude could be as simple as sharing a kind word or as meaningful as writing a handwritten thank-you note for the influence they’ve had in your life. And expressing gratitude can remind both you and your loved one of the positive parts of your lives.
5. Celebrate success
When your loved one accomplishes a goal, be their own personal cheerleading squad. Take some time to celebrate their success and show interest in their life. No matter how you choose to celebrate — sending them a greeting card in the mail, taking them out to dinner, donating to a charity or cause that’s important to them in their name — the other person will feel empowered by your support.
6. Spend quality time together
Quality time is the moments you spend with your loved ones that make you both feel closer and more connected. It can be as simple as meeting for coffee, watching a favorite movie together, playing a board game, or even chatting on a video call. The activity itself doesn’t matter — what matters is how the time spent together makes you feel.
7. Just be there
Listen to someone vent, be a shoulder to cry on, or hold their hand if they’re going through a tough time.
Even if you don’t know the right words to say, by just being there, you let the other person know how much they matter to you. This is especially important if a loved one is struggling with a mental health issue like depression. You don’t need to be a doctor or therapist to offer support — listening with an open mind can help them feel understood. But if you ever do need guidance on what to say, we’re here to help.
So, take time to show you care. You’ll strengthen your relationships and give your loved ones — and yourself — a dose of good health.