When you were growing up, parents and teachers probably told you to sit up straight. Today, you may want to give yourself the same warning. Find out what happens when you stop slouching, and learn how to fix your posture for good.
Benefits of Good Posture
Slouching can affect more than your appearance. Your posture is closely connected to your mental and physical health too.
1. Enjoy more energy. Slouching can decrease the amount of oxygen to your lungs by as much as 30%. More oxygen means more energy.
2. Boost your mood. Slumping forward can also contribute to depression and anxiety. One Harvard University study found a 15% increase in the stress hormone cortisol. Brighten your outlook by straightening up.
3. Enhance your digestion. When you’re folded over, your intestines squeeze together. Taking a load off your organs will make it easier to digest your food and correct embarrassing issues that may be keeping you in the bathroom for too long.
4. Prevent back pain. Poor sitting posture is a common cause of low back pain, as well as tension headaches. Proper alignment keeps you more comfortable.
5. Look slimmer. Imagine looking ten pounds lighter in an instant. Elongating your spine makes your stomach appear flatter.
Exercises to Fight Slouching
End slouching for good by strengthening your core. Strong muscles will help you maintain a neutral spine. All it takes is a few minutes a day on a consistent basis.
1. Build up your muscles. There’s less pressure on your spine when you tighten up the stabilizer muscles in your abdomen and lower back. You can find a variety of safe and effective exercises, including planks and leg extensions, to suit any fitness level. Browse online or talk with a trainer.
2. Increase your flexibility. Stretching counts too. Limbering up corrects imbalances that could be pulling you out of alignment.
3. Play sports. If you prefer turning your workouts into a game, there are sports that target your core. Try gymnastics, swimming, rowing, soccer, or volleyball.
Other Habits to Fight Slouching
While you’re working out, take a look at the rest of your lifestyle. There are more simple and free ways to care for your spine.
1. Adjust your workspace. Hunching over a computer for hours can be a prescription for back pain. When possible, work on a larger desk computer rather than a laptop, and position the monitor at eye level. Take breaks to squeeze your shoulder blades together behind you or gently lean into a partial backbend.
2. Raise your phone. Tilting your head 30 degrees forward puts 40 pounds of pressure on your spine. When texting or checking messages, lift your phone up or lower your gaze instead of your whole head.
3. Sleep well. Examine your sleep position. When you lie on your side, use a pillow between your knees. If you’re on your back, put a small pillow under the curve of your neck to protect your spine.
4. Eat whole foods. Certain nutrients are especially important for your muscles, joints, and bones. Eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of calcium from dairy foods like yogurt and skim milk, dark leafy greens, and soy products made with calcium sulfate. Other important nutrients include magnesium, vitamin K, and vitamin D.
5. Limit caffeine. Cut down on substances that may lower bone density. Drink water instead of cola, and consider substituting a cup of herbal tea instead of an additional coffee drink.
While you’re working on your new habits, remind yourself frequently to stand and sit up straight. Good posture will soon become so natural you won’t even need to think about it. You’ll just know that you feel more confident and comfortable since you stopped slouching.