While striving to live a healthy life, we often forget that sometimes the simplest things can lead to the most significant changes. One thing that frequently gets overlooked in the quest for health is posture. However, standing and sitting up straight has many health benefits that should not be ignored.
One of the most obvious perks of cutting out the slouching is less back pain. When we either hunch over while sitting, or stand with our weight unevenly distributed, it takes a toll on our spines, back and shoulder muscles. It can also put a huge strain on the neck, and cause headaches. Poor posture places more pressure on the joints, which can lead to pain, as well as to eventual decreased range of motion, and even arthritis.
Proper posture, on the other hand, encourages the body to function as efficiently as it can. It keeps your weight evenly distributed among appropriate muscle groups, so that muscles do not have to strain to compensate for the uneven load. The body also works harder to support poor posture, so sitting and standing up straight can also leave you with more energy throughout the day.
Good posture allows you to breathe more deeply and with more ease, as your lungs and diaphragm are given optimal space in which to expand. It also improves circulation and can even help organs to function better, if, for example, the way that you slouch “crunches” a particular organ.
Furthermore, there is a great deal of evidence which suggests that good posture can improve both the way that we are viewed by others, and the way that we view ourselves. In June of 2012, Amy Cuddy gave a TED talk in Edinburgh, Scotland in which she emphasized the importance and impact of non-verbal bodily cues, especially posture.
During her talk, she described how in her research, those with “high power” posture (sitting and standing up straight, in an expansive, open fashion) exhibited higher levels of testosterone, lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), and generally felt more confident, even if they had only adopted the posture for a few moments.
She also described an experiment in which “high power posture” individuals were found to be more hireable, versus “low power posture” individuals; those who were hunched, with heads down and extremities drawn inwards.
So, why not try it for yourself? Whether you are sitting or standing, straighten your spine, pull your shoulders back, and distribute your weight evenly across both of your feet. Keep your chin level, without tucking it under or lifting it too high. Stretching regularly can aid greatly in improving posture, especially if you have made a habit of slouching or hunching over.
If you do this one simple thing, you will find yourself looking and feeling better almost immediately.
-The Alternative Daily