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Easy Ways to Actually Improve Your Posture

Easy Ways to Actually Improve Your Posture
From TIME - April 4, 2018

Youve probably heard about tech neckthe head-drooped, shoulders-forward pose many of us strike while crouched at a computer or peering into our phones. The more time a person spends in this position, the more the bodys muscles and ligaments embrace it as normal. The result is poor posture, which may have repercussions far beyond appearances.

We live in a world now where slouching is highly promoted because were sitting in chairs and our body is in a collapsed position, says Erik Peper, a professor in the department of health education at San Francisco State University. If you have any history of exhaustion or negative thoughts, I would say that this body position amplifies them.

Its true: Peper has conducted a series of studies on posture and how it can influence a persons mood, energy levels and cognitive performance. Some of his research has found that slouching promotes low mood and decreased energy levels. One of his forthcoming studies shows that slouching can even impair student performance on a math test.

Human emotion and cognition are closely linked to body posture, Peper says, and this link operates like a two-way street. Feeling depressed or frightened can cause a persons head to drop or his posture to become tight and closed, but assuming these poses also seems to promote feelings of depression or fear.

Weve looked at brain activity using EEG, and we found the brain had to work harder to invoke positive or optimistic memories while [a person was] slouching compared to sitting up, he says. Every thought and emotion has a corresponding body activity, and every body activity has a corresponding psychological experience. People prone to depressed mood, negative thoughts or low energy may be exacerbating those mental and physical states with poor posture, he says.

Pepers not alone in this field. Just last year, a study from New Zealand linked upright posture with improved mood and energy levels among people with symptoms of depression. Another recent study found that the bent-over posture associated with smartphone use could hamper breathing and impair respiratory function.

Long story short, good posture matters. So how can you improve yours? Any posture overhaul has to include major changes to your daily routines. If you can switch up your desk setup in ways that promote proper posture, thats a great start, experts say.

There are also a number of exercises that will help correct your poor posture. If you have a rounded posture where your shoulders are migrating forward, youll want to do exercises that strengthen the muscles between the shoulder blades, says William Smith, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and co-author of Exercises for Perfect Posture.

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