Good posture can alleviate back pain, enable you to lead a more active lifestyle—and help your clothes fit better.
If those aren’t reasons enough to stop slouching, chew on this: You can look at someone’s posture and predict the incidence of chronic disease as well as the effects on the heart, lungs, and blood pressure, says Dr. Jordan Leasure of North Shore Pro-Active Health in Libertyville. “If you can eliminate bad posture, we’re one step ahead of the game.”
It’s possible to improve your posture in just a few minutes a day. Just don’t expect changes to happen overnight, Leasure says. Instead, focus on consistency and dedicate 10 to 15 minutes a day to developing better posture. Here are 4 tips to help you stand taller and live longer.
Remember to switch shoulders when you’re carrying a purse or laptop bag. Though it lacks the sophistication of a classic handbag, a backpack distributes weight more evenly across your shoulders. If you’re more function over form, try a rolling duffle. And remember to make several trips to lug multiple bags inside.
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“We can choose a shoe because it’s pretty or we can buy a good shoe because it’s meant to help us,” says Suzi Marks of Mindful Movement in Highland Park. She suggests investing in a shoe that distributes weight across your foot, with slightly more weight placed over the balls of your feet. Avoid heels that make you rock back too far.
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Make sure your desk sits at the right height and your chair offers sufficient support. You never want your wrist, shoulder, or neck to start hurting. Take frequent breaks and move around to lubricate your joints. “We look at motion as a nutrient—the same way you would with food or water,” Leasure says. “You wouldn’t go a day without eating or drinking water.”
Practice Makes Perfect
Squeeze in one of these stretching exercises during a commercial break. Lie on your back, with knees bent and feet on the floor. Gently lower legs to your right side. Switch to the left side. Repeat. (If you can’t lower your legs to the ground, start with a small range.)
Buy a physio ball (look for slow-deflation ones). After you are comfortable sitting on the ball, tighten abs and place feet parallel on the ground. March in place by lifting one foot up then setting it down. Switch feet. Repeat.
Sit on the ball with both feet on the ground. Raise both arms above head. Maintain strong posture and a tight core. Reach one arm over your head to the side, then switch arms. This stretches your obliques and neck.