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Posture Affects Your Total Health

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How many times as a kid did you hear your mother say “stand up straight”? Good posture is important to balance: by standing up straight, you center your weight over your feet. This also helps you maintain correct form while exercising, which results in fewer injuries and greater gains. Working on balance can even strengthen your abilities in tennis, golf, running, dancing, skiing — and just about any other sport or activity.

Not an athlete? It still pays to have good balance. Just walking across the floor or down the block requires good balance. So do rising from a chair, going up and down stairs, toting packages, and even turning to look behind you.

Poor posture isn’t necessarily a bad habit, either. Physical reasons for poor posture include:
• Inflexible muscles that decrease range of motion (how far a joint can move in any direction). For example, overly tight, shortened hip muscles tug your upper body forward and disrupt your posture. Overly tight chest muscles can pull your shoulders forward. This can happen as you sit at a computer all day or are always looking down at your phone or tablet.
• Muscle strength affects balance in a number of ways. The core muscles of the back, side, pelvis, and buttocks form a sturdy central link between your upper and lower body. Weak core muscles encourage slumping, which tips your body forward and off balance. Strong lower leg muscles also help keep you steady when standing.

Poor posture can affect other areas of our health as well. In a study from San Francisco State University, students were told to either walk down a hall in a slouched position or skip down a hall. The slouchers reported increased feelings of depression and lower energy than the skippers! Slouching can also affect how others see you. Janice Novak, author of Posture, Get it Straight, says if you walk into someone’s office slouching and bent over they can perceive you as being not as vital to an organization. Sitting in a crunched position can also cause your intestines to be crunched, which can lead to constipation.

A recent Australian study found that after the age of 25, every single hour of television—i.e., slouching on the couch—reduced the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes. Plus, when English researchers cross-referenced sitting time with health outcomes in a different study, they found that those 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. Prolonged sitting can also cut off circulation to our legs, can make you look heavier and lead to stress.

To improve your posture, strengthen your back muscles and your core muscles. Next time you are in the office, we can show you some exercises that will help strengthen these muscles.

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