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Upright Living


Proper posture can decrease aches, pains and more.


“Stand up straight!” is just one of Mom’s countless warnings. You might remember when she told you — but it’s not like it’s going to kill you if you slouch, right?

Maybe not. But maybe so. Scientists at UCLA found that poor posture can be tied to breathing problems, falls and more — all of which can take years off your life. Some other ways scientists believe poor posture can have negative effects:

1. Raises stress and deepens depression
2. Causes constipation
3. Makes you look heavier
4. Cuts off your circulation
5. Creates avoidable neck and back pain

All of this is not to mention the body language that poor posture gives off, indicating poor confidence. Poor posture proof you might not be aware of:

Slouches are Grouches A Harvard study showed that people with poor posture experienced a 15 percent increase in cortisol stress levels and a 10 percent decrease in testosterone levels. Get out of the slump and cut the stress

All Pain, No Gain Slouching stresses muscles, strains ligaments, impairs your range of motion and can cause stiffness from your neck to your lower back. That’s not made any easier by the weight we tend to gain as we get older and less active.

Nowhere to Go but Down Sitting in a slumped position gives your internal organs the opportunity to droop forward making you look fat. When we stand versus sit, we burn 20 percent more calories and strengthen our muscles, boost metabolism and increase bone density.

Sitting is Slouching: An English study that cross-referenced sitting times with health outcomes found that people who sat the most more than doubled their risk of developing diabetes and had a 147 percent increase in their risk for cardiovascular disease — even if they exercised.

Better Posture through Better Training Maybe gravity has snuck up on you. Maybe you’re slouching and you don’t even know it. Training yourself to stand up straight again might be just what you need to ease that neck pain and lower back pain.

Experts recommend various exercises for adopting a straight-spine posture. Practicing these movements on a flat surface without back support allows you to better focus on position, but keep in mind that a good, supportive chair with lumbar and arm support is invaluable for long hours of sitting. (You thought your posture was bad now— try sitting on a stool at your desk all day!)

Exercise at Your Desk Lift the bottom of your ribcage an inch or two off your hipbone, pulling your shoulder blades back and down. Don’t shrug up, this actually decreases the arching of your lower back and allows your abdominals to start slouching again. Hold the blades back, release, repeat.

Headlight, Head’s Up Imagine a headlight in the middle of your chest and always let the light shine forward. Don’t puff out your chest or lean back on your pelvis, just shine outward. Now, keeping your eyes on the horizon, pull your head back to align your ears with your shoulders. When they’re in alignment, you’re in alignment.

Check Your Position Pin a ribbon to the top and to the bottom of your shirt and keep it flat and straight against your shirt for 10 minutes at a time.

Stand Up; Sit Down; Fight, Fight, Fight! If you can stand up from your chair and sit back down again without using the chair arms, you’ll improve your lower body muscles and keep them much stronger. That in turn makes better posture possible.

Never Forget Your mom isn’t here to remind you so use environmental prompts that encourage you to practice your posture exercises. Every time you hit a red light or get a text (bing!), check your headlight and align your ears over your shoulders. While you’re at it, take a few slow, deep breaths to combat stress and oxygenate your blood.

Slouching usually happens through a long, slow period of adjustment. Now it’s time to learn how to stand up straight again. Your back, body, mood and health will thank you!