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“Sit Up Straight!” Study Finds Unexpected Benefits Of Good Posture

“Sit Up Straight!” Study Finds Unexpected Benefits Of Good Posture

How many times have you sunk down on the sofa while watching TV? Or worse, how often do you remember to sit up straight as you stab at your keyboard? If you are like me, you only remember to adjust your sitting position occasionally, and that is bad for your health.

The fact that we are bipeds means that our spine is subject to a lot of stress and strains. One of these is the force of gravity which keeps us on the planet but also tends to compress spinal discs, leading to chronic pain and muscle spasms. That is why some people use inversion therapy.

Gravity is mainly good for our bones and muscles, but it does tend to be an obstacle when we are carrying a backpack or pushing a bike uphill. That’s nothing when you talk to any astronaut who will tell you that the force of gravity can cause many problems when they get back to earth.

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So, let’s not blame gravity for all our aches and pains. I always thank gravity when I go downstairs and curse it on the way up! Inversion therapy can be rather expensive, so let’s look at how sitting up straight can really benefit our health. It does not cost anything and you will never need to venture into space!

You can breathe better

If you are leaning forward to see that computer screen or are slouching, then it is pretty obvious that proper breathing cannot take place. It is blocking the airways and that is interfering with oxygen getting to the nervous system and organs, impacting how they work. It can make as much as 30 percent difference.

Here is a bonus tip. If you are going for your dream job interview, try this trick. Take some deep belly breaths to help you relax the throat muscles and give you a deeper voice. Studies show that people with deeper voices are on the fast track for leadership posts.

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You will have more energy and optimism

Dr. Erik Peper, professor of holistic health from the San Francisco State University, has conducted research on how posture can affect mood, give you more energy, and even lift depression. He measured levels of optimism, energy, and mood on students who were asked to slouch down or skip down a hallway. Those who skipped had higher energy levels and less depression than those who had slouched. The same goes for our sitting position, as confirmed by a University of Auckland study.

Your concentration levels will get a boost

Did you know that your brain needs 100 billion neurons just to keep things ticking over? It also needs about 20% of our oxygen supply to keep it in top condition. The more oxygen we supply it from proper breathing by sitting up straight, the more we will be able to concentrate and focus better.

“Relaxed, straight sitting expands your chest, allowing you to take in a larger breath… and you’ll have more energy and focus.” — Dr. Golubic, medical director of Center for Lifestyle Medicine at Cleveland Clinic.

Your confidence will soar

When you enter a room, your posture says a lot about you. If you stand straight, you exude confidence and feel more self-assured. When you sit at meetings, your posture also sends a message. Assertive poses are known as power poses.

Amy Cuddy, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, gave a TED talk on this, which you can view here. The interesting thing is that even if you change your pose, you can gain poise! Two minutes can do the trick because that is sometimes sufficient to change levels of the cortisol stress hormone.

No harm in remembering that our body language, whether standing or sitting, is sending out signals to ourselves and others about our thoughts, attitudes, and emotions. Faking it till we make it at job interviews can actually work, according to Cuddy’s research.

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Your back will thank you

Who doesn’t have back pain every now and then? And what about shoulder, neck, and wrist pain? In many cases, poor posture when sitting down is the main cause, especially if we work using a computer.

Your desk may be too high or too low for you, meaning you are typing on an incline. Again, the computer screen may need adjusting so that it is at eye level. How we sit is crucial, because we should try to keep as upright as possible while pushing the hips back into the chair. This is very important in keeping the lower back’s arch or natural curve. Don’t cross your legs and try to keep feet flat on the floor. If your muscles are loose, you run the risk of putting too much stress on the tendons and ligaments. That can lead to repetitive strain injury (RSI).

Anthropologically, we were never meant to sit for long in freezing caves. Although we no longer need to hunt animals for food, we should get up and move around as often as we can, even if it is only for a few seconds.

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If you cannot remember to do all this, why not get a posture sensor? You can wear it around your waist and let it take over your posture management. This one monitors your breathing as well! Every time you start to slouch, or your breathing is below par, the sensor will vibrate. Now, that’s much better than somebody telling you to “Sit up straight!”

Featured photo credit: Osmond Group Limited via Flickr via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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