How’s your posture? Do you remember when you were a kid and your parents told you to not slouch at the dinner table? I remember hearing it and now I’m telling my kids. I’m also cueing my customers to have better posture and maintain a “head over shoulders, shoulders over hips” posture. I’ll admit that it’s harder now to posture up because of all the technology pulling our head down. We do have to make a conscious effort to correct our posture throughout the day.
I often tell people to stick their chest out, squeeze their shoulder blades together and look up. That’s a nice back extension exercise to do during the day. Posture is our structural alignment. When our posture is correct, we reduce the stress on our joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments.
Here are some other reasons why posturing up is good for our body, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE):
Our mood. We can tell if somebody is in a down mood by looking at their posture. Walking around with our head down makes us look like we’re sad. Studies have shown that alignment can also dictate our mood. One study showed that hunched over people reported higher stress levels than the relaxed upright group (Riskind & Gotay 1982). Another study showed that upright individuals reported better moods, higher self-esteem, greater arousal and less fear than the hunched over group. It concerns me when I see our youth walking around in hoodies with their heads dropped in their smartphones.
Our energy. Do you want more energy? Try posturing up. A study showed that people reported a drop in energy levels after slouched walking and an increase in energy levels after skipping (Peper & Lin 2012). Instead of reaching for the energy drink or coffee in the afternoon, try a good posture walk.
Our success. A study showed that standing in a power pose - an upright posture with chest out and shoulders back - can influence testosterone and cortisone levels and may improve our success potential (Cuddy, Wilmuth & Carney 2012). Try your power pose to boost your confidence.
Our breath. To me, this is the most important benefit of maintaining a good posture. When we’re bent over, our lungs and organs don’t function like they should because of the restrictions placed on them. Try this exercise. Sit upright in a chair and take a deep breath into your lungs. Now sit in a kyphotic - shoulders slumped forward with head down - position and take that deep breath. Harder, isn’t it? A study showed that standing produced better respirations than sitting (Lin et al. 2006). Need to breathe better? Get out of the chair, stand up and stretch.
I’ll stop nagging you now about your posture. But when you see me, just know that I’ll be checking your posture. And I hope you check mine. Here’s to your great posture (and mine)!
Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the May 11, 2017 edition of the Seaford Star.