Better posture for optimal health

Unlike diet and exercise, which can take several weeks to several months to show any real effect, the positive effects of good posture are noticeable from the moment you begin standing and sitting up straighter.

by Scott White — 

If you eat properly, work out regularly and strengthen your body, you are ahead of the game, compared to most Americans. Health is important to you; you set your goals and stick to them. With all these healthy behaviors, you certainly are doing the best you can, right?

What you might be missing though, is an often-overlooked key to health: good posture. Good posture can improve your overall health, make you more confident and attractive, and give you energy to spare.

When most people focus on health, they eat better, drink more water, exercise properly and get enough sleep. So why do so many overlook the importance of good posture? Poor posture can strain your joints and lead to headaches, neck and shoulder stress, sciatica, hip and knee pain. Good posture is vital to anyone who wants to look and feel as healthy as possible, and one of its best benefits is that the effects are immediate.

Unlike diet and exercise, which can take several weeks to several months to show any real effect, the positive effects of good posture are noticeable from the moment you begin standing and sitting up straighter.

Turns out that when Grandma was bugging you to “sit up straight!” she was really onto something. Here are a few amazing benefits that can result from such a benign act:

Improved organ function — Your organs are designed to work within your body, as it was meant by nature to be aligned. Of course, they do not stop functioning when you slouch, but your organs can operate much more efficiently when you sit and stand up straight. You will also experience more energy, as your systems waste less effort bypassing the kinks you were creating by slouching.

Healthier muscles — Muscles also can benefit from your new and improved posture, as their biomechanics are optimized when in the proper positions. In fact, slouching can actually damage your muscles, straining and elongating your back muscles and making your stomach muscles weak and puny. All the muscles in your body are forced to work harder when your posture is bad; when you straighten up, your muscles can simply do the work you want them to do.

Relief from back pain — Are you sick of experiencing back pain after a long drive, or a long day at the computer? Better posture will go a long way toward eliminating that pain, by allowing your muscles to work as they were meant to, rather than dealing with all that extra strain. Improved posture means you can take that trip and not have to worry about dealing with back pain when you arrive at your destination. You will also be able to drive longer distances since you will experience less pain and fatigue.

Better concentration — In addition to longer road trips or stints at the computer, you will be able to better concentrate on other things, for the same reasons. Wouldn’t it be nice to sit in a chair and read for an hour without feeling like a wreck? Sit up straight and give it a shot.

A flatter stomach — After practicing perfect posture for a while, you might even notice your waistline decreasing because it requires some effort on the part of your stomach muscles to hold yourself up properly. This, in fact, is probably the reason so many of us slouch: we are simply too lazy to sit up straight.

Focusing on sitting and standing up straight will enable you to look and feel younger and more confident. You will have energy to spare by putting the finishing touches on your overall picture of health. And the results will begin to materialize immediately. There is no reason to slouch, and every reason to develop a healthier, happier back today!

An excellent exercise for improving posture

  • Sit up tall in a straight-backed chair, feet flat on the floor.
  • Put your hands together in front of your chest, in a typical prayer pose.
  • Pull your shoulders down.
  • Inhale, and begin to push your palms together.
  • Raise your hands and elbows while continuing to push, until your hands are just slightly above your eyes.
  • You should feel a slight tightness across your back.
  • Hold this position for one to two seconds.
  • Exhale, and relax.
  • Repeat this movement six to 12 times.

 

Scott White is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist in Scottsdale, Ariz. For more information about nutrition and first-rate fitness training: www.personalpowertraining.net, swhite@personalpowertraining.net or 480-628-1607.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 5, October/November 2007.

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