While good posture starts from an early age, it’s important to know that posture can be improved and strengthened at any stage in life! Not only can good posture prevent common problems like back pain, you might be surprised to know that it’s also responsible for increasing alertness and enhancing daily energy levels.
Good posture is important for opening up the chest to allow more oxygen into the lungs, which can effectively increase energy levels.
While activities such as gardening offer fantastic health benefits in terms of moderate intensity physical activity, body positions such as stooping, kneeling and squatting for long periods of time can cause postural problems.
Where possible, change positions frequently and try incorporating a chair or comfortable cushion into your garden routine in order to achieve a less painful position.
Test your posture!
A simple test for upper body posture is to have a friend look at you from the side while you are facing forward, and to then compare whether your ears are in-line with your shoulders, your shoulders are straight rather than rounded, and that your arms hang down by your side rather than too far in front of the body.
For the lower body, your friend should assess whether your knees, hips and ankles are in a straight line or whether anything is sitting too far back or forward.
How to improve your posture
Don’t fret if you need to improve your posture – a few small adjustments can make a big difference! Follow these top tips from Nature’s Own Exercise Physiologist and Dietitian Kate Save:
- Simply having an awareness of your posture during the day can assist with improving posture as you can voluntarily correct this. Start by checking your reflection in the windows, mirrors or shadows on the ground and then making adjustments to your posture to straighten yourself up. If it helps, set yourself some reminders throughout the day!
- Ensure to get up out of your chair at least every 15-20 minutes as long periods of sedentary behaviour can negatively affect posture. Start by setting your timer on your phone, watch or even kitchen timer to get used to moving around more, or alternatively, get up every ad-break if watching TV or every time you answer a phone call or email if sitting at a computer.
- Even when we walk we can have bad posture, especially as we get tired later in the day, as we tend to slouch forward resulting in rounded shoulders and a forward hanging head. Try concentrating on engaging your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button into your spine, pulling back your shoulders and expanding your chest to improve your dynamic posture.
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Authored by Nature’s Own Exercise Physiologist and Dietitian, Kate Save