Straighten Up for Better Health

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
6/14/2011 2:14 PM   :  27 comments   :  11,438 Views

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I've blogged in the past about my battle with my posture, because I have been a sloucher since I was a kid. It's something that makes me cringe when I look at pictures of myself and think "Why doesn't anyone ever tell me to stand up straight?" Having a desk job doesn't help, because it's easy to slump down in my chair when working at a computer for hours at a time. According to new research, thousands of people are losing days of work due to posture-related aches and injuries.

The report from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration says over 600,000 Americans have posture-related injuries (like shoulder, back and neck pain) each year. Anyone who spends more than 95% of their day sitting is at risk, so focusing on good posture is important. Remind yourself periodically to sit up straight, get up from your desk to stretch and walk around once every hour or so, and consider sitting on a stability ball instead of a regular chair.

Good posture not only helps strengthen your back, neck and core muscles, it increases oxygen consumption and can also help with self-confidence. "A January study from Northwestern University found that volunteers who were told to maintain a straight posture when sitting not only projected more of a leadership ability to others, compared with when they were told to slouch, but also said they felt more powerful even when assigned the role of a subordinate in a role-playing situation."

Poor posture can eventually lead to muscle weakness and a decreased range of motion. Activities like yoga and Pilates can help with flexibility and core strength, and regular physical activity can also help improve posture. The funny thing for me is that I have excellent posture when I'm running- it's just the rest of the time when I have problems standing straight.

If you are hoping to improve your posture but aren't sure where to begin, check out some Exercises to Improve Your Posture.

Have you ever had issues with poor posture? What have you done to correct the problem?


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