Many people are aware that poor posture is linked to back pain and headaches, but did you know that it has much more serious consequences and is connected to a decreased lifespan?
A Japanese study, conducted on 804 male and female adults, ages 64 to 96, found that the worse the posture in a person, the more assistance they needed in accomplishing daily activities. The study concluded that posture has a significant impact on quality of life and life expectancy. In addition, a study of older people’s kyphosis (increased forward bending of back posture) by Milne Williamson found that the more posture degrades, the more mortality increases.
How Posture Affects Health
Slouching or slumping can affect your health in various ways by:
- Misaligning your musculoskeletal system
- Wearing away at your spine, making it more fragile and prone to injury
- Causing neck, shoulder, and back pain
- Decreasing your flexibility
- Affecting how well your joints move
- Affecting your balance and increasing your risk of falling
- Making it harder to digest your food
- Making it harder to breathe
Improving Your Posture
Because it doesn’t just affect your health but also your mortality, it’s important that you maintain good posture. It may not be easy and may take a while for you to get used to, but the following things can help you improve your posture in general:
- Mindfulness – Being mindful of your posture during daily activities, like watching television, washing dishes, or walking, will remind you to correct it.
- Exercise regularly – Staying physically active has many health benefits, and one of them pertains to improved posture. Yoga, tai chi, and other classes that focus on body awareness can help you work on your back especially. Exercises that strengthen your core (muscles around your back, abdomen, and pelvis) are also helpful in improving posture.
- Maintain a healthy weight –When you are overweight, your abdominal muscles weaken, which can affect your pelvis and spine, contribute to low back pain and hurt your posture.
- Wear flat, comfortable shoes – High heels are bad for your health, can throw off your balance, and force you to walk differently. This stresses your muscles and harms your posture.
- Work surfaces should be at a comfortable height – Regardless of whether you’re sitting in front of a computer, making dinner, or eating a meal, the table in front of you should be at a comfortable height and not force you to slouch.
- Improving posture while sitting – Switching sitting positions often, taking brief walks in your house or outdoors, regularly stretching your muscles, relaxing your shoulders, and not crossing your legs can all help you improve your posture while sitting down.
The Bottom Line
Good posture isn’t just linked to better health but also to a longer life. While it may seem difficult at first to be mindful of the way you stand or sit, a few lifestyle changes can make a significant difference and not only impact your posture but also your overall quality of life.