Fitness Articles

Exercises to Improve Your Posture

Stand Taller, Look 10 Pounds Thinner

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If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then posture is a lens to our health. Sit and stand with proper posture and you will physically look 10 years younger—and 10 pounds lighter. Psychologically, good posture conveys confidence, poise and leadership.

Unfortunately, few of us exhibit good posture, let alone perfect posture. In fact, poor posture often develops so gradually that you may notice its symptoms (back and neck pain, tightness and stiffness, increased injury and losses in your normal range of motion) long before you notice your shoulders hunching over.

Luckily, you can correct your posture by incorporating some simple exercises and stretches into your workout program.

Proper Posture Defined
Good posture results when the muscles of the body align properly, allowing for efficient movement. When your body's muscles and joints are balanced and supported properly, you're better able to perform everyday activities, such as squatting to pick up laundry or running down a flight of stairs efficiently.

When you are poorly aligned, the joints in your body (e.g., shoulders, spine, hips, knees and ankles) do not fit together properly. This causes some muscles to work harder than others. Over time, those muscles become tense while the others weaken, creating muscular imbalances that slowly devolve into poor posture. As posture deteriorates further, joint movements become restricted and the differences between tense and weak muscles places greater stress on your joints, which then have to compensate. This causes pain, stiffness and loss of motion throughout the body. But fix these imbalances, and your posture (and the pain associated with it) will improve.

A qualified personal trainer can provide information about your posture by observing it during a comprehensive fitness assessment. In many cases, a plumb line hanging from the ceiling can be used as a vertical line of reference. The trainer can position you along this vertical reference point. Ideally, the vertical cord should line up with your ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle. More often than not, our posture does not fall perfectly along this perfect vertical line—even if you are reasonably healthy and fit.

Improve Your Posture in 4 Steps
So what can you do to improve your posture? Your personal trainer may recommend specific exercises for you, based on the findings of your postural assessment. But even without the aid of a trainer, you can work to improve your posture by adding corrective strengthening and stretching exercises to your fitness program. Perform the exercises and stretches listed below 2-3 times a week for 15-20 minutes per session. Remember to breathe steadily and hold stretches for a minimum of 15-20 seconds. For strengthening exercises, perform 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions using good form and technique.
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About The Author

Glenn Kent Glenn Kent
Glenn is an ACE-certified personal trainer who motivates clients to perform their best, both physically and mentally. He earned his doctorate in health psychology and is the owner of Fitness Motive, a wellness consulting company located in Cincinnati. Glenn also works as an adjunct university instructor at the University of Cincinnati. He enjoys the outdoors, reading, and has developed an affinity for the taste of dark chocolate.

Member Comments

  • I have always been proud of my posture, as a large woman all my life, I am blessed with remarkable self confidence. Three years in a wheel chair, then walker, then cane has changed my world. I am learning to walk tall again, and find that my eyes tend to look down, from fear of falling. This is one of the things I have carried to a trainer for help. Article is a good one, somethings are out of my range, but others are well received and I will incorporate to my routine. - 1/26/2014 7:06:13 PM
  • Was just talking with my health coach about this issue earlier today. I've had terrible posture since childhood and have been disappointed that it has not improved as I have lost weight and become more fit. I guess I'll just have to focus more on the exercises described here. - 12/18/2013 9:34:49 PM
  • Thanks for sharing. - 12/10/2013 5:01:37 AM
  • My back always hurt me. I think that's why my left hip hurt me so bad because of my back. But when I walk I always walk straight up. - 9/13/2013 9:45:09 PM
  • I have had terrible posture since I was a child and in recent years have suffered from a pinched nerve in my neck, sciatica, bone spurs on my spine, and arthritis in my spine. I am still pretty young to be having all of this. So I am working on my posture. It is something that I try to think about all day long because otherwise I will slip back into my old habits. - 4/30/2013 8:36:43 PM
  • I have had terrible posture since I was a child and in recent years have suffered from a pinched nerve in my neck, sciatica, bone spurs on my spine, and arthritis in my spine. I am still pretty young to be having all of this. So I am working on my posture. It is something that I try to think about all day long because otherwise I will slip back into my old habits. - 4/30/2013 8:36:38 PM
  • If you've had a swayback since childhood, can these exercises fix that in adulthood? - 7/28/2012 6:48:32 PM
  • Great list that covers all my issues with posture....now if only I could store it somewhere so I can get to the list any time I want to work! - 6/7/2012 6:49:08 AM
  • This is a good list and I need to fix my posture thanks - 5/3/2012 8:35:24 AM
  • KAYTEETOO
    Thanks, I am sitting up straighter at my desk already! - 4/2/2012 5:41:12 AM
  • BETHHONEY
    I'm wondering why we're avoiding a full sit-up. I know that they're hard. But why doesn't the author want us to do them? - 9/15/2011 3:31:47 PM
  • REDSHOES2011
    A wise chiropactor told me alot of these tips years back. I also like Frederic Delaviers training books he knows his anatomy better than any other strength training pro's as has degrees in human dissection as well as being a pro power lifter.. He has gotten me through safely improved my posture and with hard work off constant painkillers.. His colour coding muscle groups activated with each exercise is state of the art.. He opened my eye to use less energy on exercises that over lap each other.. - 6/15/2011 9:33:26 AM
  • Great article! It is just the information I have been searching for. I have a spine/hip/neck issue and feel it progressing. I'm glad to know that there are things I can do!! I will favorite this article and refer back to it and the exercises it contains. Thank you! - 5/5/2011 4:50:28 PM
  • thanks for the article,my back always aches.. - 8/30/2010 6:09:11 PM
  • It was great to see exactly what I need to add to my routine. Thanks for a timely article with so much info! - 8/11/2010 10:04:48 PM
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