A secret to longevity? Start by standing up straight.

Dr. Pam Peeke leaning against a wall and smiling

It’s a new year, and resolutions are on all our lips. We want to be kinder and smarter. We want to be better cooks, more sensitive parents and friends, we want fatter bank accounts and thinner bodies. While most of us will abandon our New Year’s resolutions by mid-February, there’s one goal we can all focus on, and its benefits can help toward the greatest payback of all: the gift of longevity.

A long and happy life is the gold standard of success on this earth, and so many of us consider longevity to be little more than a crapshoot. Chronic illnesses and devastating accidents seem to be able to strike us by chance. Genetics and the hidden secrets of our DNA are determined before birth and out of our control. And while it’s true that there are dozens of factors that affect how long we live that we simply can’t prepare for, there’s one step toward longevity that we can all employ, and it’s so simple and elegant it almost feels too good to be true.

We can simply stand up straight.

Let’s take a look at a recent study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, which looked at how bad sitting is for your health. Researchers found that for every hour of seated TV watching a person enjoys, they cut about 22 minutes from their life span.

The spine, it turns out, is the key to health and wellness, and straightening your spine is the equivalent of turning that key in a lock and opening the door to many more months and years of health and wellness. Here’s a quick explainer why:

Straight to the heart:

Poor posture can lead to an increase in heart disease: One London study that followed 40 men over the course of 20 years found that those subjects who had poor posture and height loss (a residual effect of poor spine alignment) had a 64 percent higher chance of developing coronary heart disease.

As I live and breathe:

Your lung capacity is directly related to the straightness of your spine. When you slump or slouch, you squeeze in on your lungs, forcing your breathing to become restricted and shallow. Stand up straight, and you can breathe deep, enriching your blood and organs with the oxygen that they need to thrive and function properly.

Get on my nerves:

Poor posture can change the normal curvature of the neck, pushing the head forward and creating a condition called hyperkyphosis, which is a forward bend of the torso. Hyperkyphosis has devastating long-term effects, including nerve compression, which can shorten your life and vastly deteriorate the quality of the years you have anyway.

On a hunch:

One hour of slumping or slouching can cut nearly half an hour off your life. Really. A University of Queensland study found that every 60 minutes you spend hunched in front of the TV, your life expectancy is skimmed by 22 minutes. If that’s not reason enough to reach for the remote and stand up tall, what is?

Your body is designed to move, and standing up straight keeps you in balance. It keeps your organs functioning properly, it keeps your muscles in alignment, and most importantly, it’s the easiest, the quickest and cheapest investment you can make on your own longevity. So this January, if you want to go Keto or join the gym, be our guest. But make sure that whether you’re on the treadmill or counting your macros, you’re doing it while standing upright.

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