Neither my mother nor my grandmother were the type of women to insist on good posture. In fact, that was more like something their mothers or grandmothers were likely to focus on. But it turns out the directive that was popular generations ago, and has mostly been forgotten, is more important than any of us thought. Not only for our looks, but our health, too. After you read this article, you're going to see a whole new way of standing and sitting that could literally improve the quality of your life.
I'm not going to lie, there was a time in my younger days when I thought the MOD slouch was the end-all be-all of standing positions. Except I didn't realize there was a reason a rail-thin 16-year-old girl might hunch her shoulders. She maybe, could be, embarrassed about being tall. And she certainly didn't need to look slimmer. But at 5'4", it wasn't my best look. And it's likely not yours either. Studies show that standing up straight not only makes the stander feel better about themselves, it conveys an attitude of power and confidence, which makes a better impression everywhere from the office to a first date.
Standing isn't the only time when posture matters for your image and looks. Walking and sitting up straight are important too. When your body is hunched over, bunched skin, rounded shoulders, a drooping neck and spare tires make for an unhealthy picture. And it's totally avoidable. So go ahead and be vain. Check yourself out in a window's reflection when you're walking down the street. See if you can't throw your shoulders back a little. You'll look more fit, happier and totally in charge — and feel that way too.
Any chiropractor will tell you that posture is extremely important for the health of your bones and for preventing joint pain and injury. It's even been linked to headaches. When your body is "out of joint" and not aligned, which can result from bad posture, you're in a much higher risk area for tensed muscle injuries. Save money on the masseuse and chiropractor by improving your posture.
Go With the Flow
Another benefit to good posture: your blood flow is optimized, keeping the working of your inner organs in line. You're actually able to breathe more deeply and effectively too. Deep, even breathing has been shown to have an emotional and mental, as well as physical, benefit. It's a major part of yoga instruction and meditation. If you stand, sit and walk straight, you might be on the path to improving your mood and attitude.
You've likely heard over the last couple of years how important core strength is for overall health. Well, good posture promotes core strength; the core is essentially your body without its limbs. You can actually reduce and flatten a soft mid-section by consistently improving posture while you sit, stand and walk. Enough about why, let's get into how.
Stand Up Straight Already!
There are umpteen specific exercises you can do to work out your core muscles, which will in turn help with posture. You can buy core-strengthening DVDs, attend Pilates class or simply google "core exercises" and have at it. But there are some simpler ways to start improving your posture right now. Imagine you're a puppet and have a string running through your body. Now imagine the string's been pulled taught and a puppeteer is holding you up. Keep that position as you sit, walk and stand. Set up a daily reminder in your phone or on your desktop to keep the string tight! Experts also recommend sitting on an exercise ball at your desk. Forcing yourself to balance on it will strengthen your core and improve posture. With practice, you'll be a happier, healthier you.