In a recent study from San Francisco State University, students were told to either walk down a hall in a slouched position or to skip. The slouchers reported increased feelings of depression and lower energy than skippers.
That’s no surprise, even our language reflects this connection between proper posture and emotional affect—someone weak is called spineless and someone proud has backbone.
The fix: Imagine there’s a headlight right in the middle of your chest at the sternum (breast bone). Sitting or standing, your headlight should always shine forward. Now, keeping your head centered over your shoulders, extend your head toward the ceiling without lifting your chin.
Problems Slouching doesn’t just hurt your attitude—it can affect how people see you. You don’t want to walk into your boss’s office slouching and bent over because you will be perceive as not as vital. Imagine how a very elder person looks, all hunched over. (when you’re 80 you’ve earned your hunch – but for now? sit up!)
The fix: To improve posture long term, you need to strengthen muscles mid-back. To avoid being a slouch on the job I recommend doing this exercise at your desk: Lift the bottom of your rib cage an inch or two off your hipbone, pulling your shoulder blades back and down. To make sure you maintain the position, pin a ribbon to the top and to the bottom of your shirt and keep it taut for 10 minutes at a time.
Makes You Look Heavier
Does this chair make me look fat? Well, yes.
We’ve become a nation of professional sitters, when you are slouched over, your internal organs have nowhere to go but down and out—you immediately look fatter. (and this allows disallows your organs to function properly)
The fix: Get up and move. When we stand as opposed to sit, we burn 20% more calories and strengthen our muscles, boost metabolism and increase bone density. (Check out these easy ways to move more at work.)
Stresses You Out
A recent study from Harvard showed that when people who adopted powerful postures (open shoulders and straight spines) had a 20% increase in testosterone levels and a 25% decrease in cortisol levels—but people who slouched had a 10% decrease in testosterone and a 15% increase in cortisol. That translates into low self-confidence and high stress. Also, sitting slouched over can compound the problem. Shallow chest breathing strains the lungs, which must move faster to ensure adequate oxygen flow, and taxes the heart, which is forced to speed up to provide enough blood for oxygen transport. The result is a vicious cycle, where stress prompts shallow breathing, which in turn creates more stress.
The fix: Take everyday cues—a ringing phone, a stoplight—as reminders to take relaxed abdominal breaths to combat stress. Here’s how to make sure you’re breathing deeply: Rest your hand below your belly button; you should feel your belly expand as you inhale – let that belly stick out like a balloon. Invite the air all the way down to the deepest portion of the lungs, where oxygen exchange is most efficient. As you exhale, you should feel your belly contract again and stress leave your body. (regular massage helps too – just sayin’)