The Benefits of Good Posture for Your Health and Happiness
Are you slumping in your chair as you read this? We caught you. There’s no reason to deny it. Millions of Americans spend five days a week in an office and the majority of that time slouched over their keyboard. Let’s be honest. We know that good posture is important, but it’s just easier to sit in a relaxed position. Just like it’s far easier to eat junk food than to eat vegetables.
But the truth is that good posture is more than just an idea of something “healthy” that you should do. It actually affects your health and happiness far more than you know. Sitting up straight, holding your shoulders back when you stand, and keeping your core tight can positively influence your mind, body, and even other people’s opinions about you.
5 Benefits of Good Posture
Between the ages of two to five, you most likely had natural, healthy, upright, and aligned posture. You walked smoothly without stiffness and with natural balance. The amazing thing is that, at that age, you didn’t even have to try to have good posture; it just came naturally. Then, one day, you went to school, and everything changed. You learned to slump and slouch at your desk, and the rest is history.
Now, as an adult, if you want the benefits of good posture you have to work for it. It takes conscious thought and effort to sit, walk, and lie down the way nature intended. The question is, “Is it worth the effort?” We think so.
Body language is very real. How you stand, sit, and walk has long-reaching implications on your own mood and happiness as well as how other people relate to you. In fact, the way you move your body affects your thoughts in a big way. A study by Ohio State University found that opinions are closely linked to our physical behavior. For example, simply nodding or shaking or head in agreement or disagreement can change your opinion. Even more amazing, hugging yourself can reduce physical pain.
As for your posture, there are three things that happen when you change your posture:
- When you sit up straight, you’re more likely to remember positive memories.
- If you walk upright or skip during breaks, you’ll increase your energy levels.
- If you practice good posture, you’re more likely to believe positive traits about yourself and accept confidence and reject depression.
According to an article published in the Journal of Biofeedback, your brain and body have a symbiotic relationship. Practicing good posture, movement, and exercise can increase your energy and happiness. The reality is that just as your body has physical responses to emotions—such as fleeing when you’re frightened—the reverse is true. If you stand with your shoulders back and your spine straight, you send a message to your brain that you feel powerful. That, in turn, starts neural impulses for power, confidence, and energy. In fact, it only takes a little stretching and adjustment to your posture to give you a stamina boost, according to Scientific American.
A recent study published in Health Psychology found that sitting up straight can help you cut out negative emotions. In the experiment, 74 participants were randomly assigned to slump or sit upright and then given a reading assignment. Upright participants reported high self-esteem, more arousal, better mood, and lower fear compared to their counterparts.
More than that, the benefits of good posture can affect how stressed out you feel. Sitting up or standing with good posture while you work can help you build resilience to deadlines and to-do lists. The reality is that when you suffer from depression you automatically collapse your body, dropping your head forward, and rounding your shoulders. By practicing good posture and placing your body in a poised upright and balanced position, you invoke feelings of happiness and ease.
As discussed earlier, good posture can affect how you think. In fact, one of the ways we shape our thoughts is through our physical movements. It’s called “embodied cognition” and it means that your brain looks to your face and body to understand how you feel. So, how does that relate to productivity? Well, productivity is the act of telling your brain that I’m in charge and I feel good to go. One of the benefits of good posture is the ability to put you in a productive state of mind. And it’s not all mental.
Dana Carney, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told Entrepreneur Magazine that posture and testosterone are interconnected and have a big affect on your productivity. When you sit or stand in a ‘power pose’ your body increases your levels of testosterone, which gives your brain the confidence it needs to approach a task and handle it.
- Pain Reduction
A lot of muscle tension and stiffness is a direct result of bad posture. When you sit or stand in a slouched position, it puts all your muscles, bones, and ligaments out of alignment and balance. This causes some muscles to tighten to compensate for others, and it only takes a little bit of time for this to put stress on your body and cause pain. Worse yet, according to the International Encyclopedia of Rehabilitation, the longer you sit and stand with bad posture, the further your discomfort grows, and recovery can be slow.
One of the benefits of good posture is its ability to reduce your back and neck pain by relieving pressure on muscles, joints, and tendons that have long been under too much stress. Good posture can even help relieve your pain by increasing your circulation and oxygen intake by about 30%. That’s because good posture opens your chest cavity, allowing more oxygen to enter your body and brain.
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