Were you ever told by your mother as a child to “sit up straight?” While it may have driven you crazy when you were young, your mother knew what she was talking about. Posture affects you negatively (if you have poor posture) or positively (if you listened to your mom and corrected it!) The next time you slouch over at your desk while reading an email, you may want to think twice. Science shows us that posture contributes to your overall outcome for every area of your life. Here’s what you need to know about your posture’s relationship with health, relationships and even your confidence (and some tips to make it even better!)
What Science Has Taught Us About Posture
In the last decade, there have been some fascinating studies done on the effects of posture. It’s not just about straightening the spine that counts, because how you hold yourself posture-wise is closely linked with other’s perceptions of you—and a form of body language that others notice right away. In fact, the Dutch behavior scientist, Erik Peper, has studied body language extensively in the last ten years, and concluded that amazing things can happen when you change your posture.
For example, if you’re used to hunching over and then sit up straight, you are more prone to think of something positive, or even trigger positive memories. Incorporating more healthy posture behaviors (such as walking at a rapid pace instead of slumped over and walking slowly) can actually increase energy levels! Most of all, your posture has the power to change your hormones. A study was done by Harvard researchers in which they measured each participant’s level of hormones from their saliva. The result? Altered hormone levels, purely based on improved posture!
It’s About Practice and Persistence (Then It Becomes a Habit)
When was the last time you saw your CEO slouched over, or slumped while he walked? The truth is, people who stand tall (no matter how short they may be!) convey importance and power. In fact, they demand it, and when YOU stand tall (with arms by your side instead of crossed over your chest), you’ll demand it too.
Here are some ways to change your work life, relationships and even your overall health, simply by changing your posture:
- Use a mirror. Looking at the mirror every morning to make sure your body is in alignment is a great way to improve your overall posture. Make sure that your hips and shoulders are aligned, as are your ears.
- Head to the gym! If this is the first time in your life you’ve paid attention to your posture, don’t fret. Take a small step by heading to your gym and work on strengthening your shoulder and upper back muscles. A little weight lifting makes a big difference!
- Stretch more. If you already stretch every morning, stretch more. If you are a beginner to stretching, keep it simple by stretching your back (on all fours, making a bridge of your back), your legs, and arms. If you can stretch for a few minutes during your lunch hour, that’s even better (and as an additional perk, stretching mid-day can help relieve workplace fatigue!)
Your posture matters—and not just on a physical level, but a mental one as well. Sit up straight, stretch as often as possible, and head to the gym (you’ll feel healthier and happier in a heartbeat!)