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Published on March 22, 2018

The Ultimate Exercises to Improve Posture (Simple and Effective)

The Ultimate Exercises to Improve Posture (Simple and Effective)

Bad posture is a common problem for many people, as we live in a world full of activities leading to poor posture. Postural dysfunction (poor posture) is when our spine is situated in unnatural positions for extended periods of time, occuring as a result of one’s daily activities. [1]

Some causes of poor posture include: slouching in a chair, hunching your back, improper understanding of correct posture, leading a sedentary lifestyle, not having an exercise routine, poor core stability, and looking down at your computer and/or cell phone for extended periods of time. However, poor posture can easily be corrected.

Why you should fix your bad posture now

Bad posture doesn’t only make you look unhealthy and unattractive, it also causes several health problems. Take a look at this infographic to learn how bad posture makes you look and feel unhealthy and tired, and how good posture makes you look and feel healthy and confident:[2]

    Know if your posture is really bad

    Let’s examine some examples of poor posture versus good posture.[3]

    • Poor Posture: Rounded shoulders, slouching, head tilted forward, bent knees, pot belly
    • Good Posture: Straight line from your ear to your shoulder to your hip, balanced and upright posture

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      So, what can you do to correct poor posture?

      Simple exercises to improve your posture

      Poor posture can lead to serious neck pain and muscular imbalance. To correct this, we must activate our weak muscles while stretching our tight muscles.[4]

      The following video outlines several exercises you can do to improve your posture:

      Let’s examine these exercises you can do to improve your posture in greater detail:

      Exercise #1 – Reverse Plank Bridge

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        The Reverse Plank Bridge activates specific muscles while stretching key muscles like your pectoral muscles and the muscles in your neck. This exercise requires the following:

        1. Keep your arms straight and pull your shoulders back.
        2. Bring your shoulder blades together.
        3. Tuck your chin.
        4. Push your chest up and extend your spine.
        5. Your fingers can be pointed forward or backward.

        Exercise #2 – Arch Up

          The Arch Up exercise consists of three movements. All three movements require you to tuck your chin and do an external rotation of your arms (thumbs should go upward).

          1. Shoulder flexion. Push your arms and shoulder blades upwards and try to raise your arms as high as possible without bending them.
          2. Horizontal abduction. Lift your arms as high as possible to the side and try to bring your shoulder blades together.
          3. Shoulder extension. Push your arms upwards (thumbs up) and lift them as high as possible.

          Exercise #3 – Plank

            Planking

            is one of the simplest exercises that give you plenty of health benefits. Planking can improve your posture if done correctly. When doing the plank exercise, be sure to keep your legs straight, don’t allow your lower back to sink, and make sure you are looking down at the floor.[5]

            Exercise #4 – Posture Belt

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              Another way to fix your posture, especially your back posture, is to wear a posture belt. Wearing one during the first few hours of morning is good practice.The following steps were outlined by Pranayoga.

              1. Place the strap over your upper back and hold the ends in each hand.
              2. Drape each end of the strap over its respective shoulder.
              3. Cross the strap in the back holding one end in each hand.
              4. Pull the straps so that you feel it in your trapezius muscles and secure the ends at the front.

              Exercise #5 – Wall Angels

              This exercise is a simple way to test your posture. To do this exercise, simply lean back against the wall and lift your arms up and down (think of lying down in the snow and creating “snow angels”).[6]

              Make sure your rear is touching the wall and your back is flat against the wall. Watch the following video for a demonstration of this exercise:

              Exercise #6 – Up Against the Wall

              One of my favorite stretches is Up Against the Wall. Here you will put your hands behind your head, place your elbows to the wall and stretch. The following video provides a demonstration of this stretch:

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              Exercise #7 – Text Neck

              Lastly, this exercise will help you prevent bad posture, and it’s easy to do several times during the day. The exercise is simply to stop looking down at your phone. Obviously, we are not going to stop using our phones anytime soon, so a solution is this: bring your phone to you at eye level.

                Your posture is guaranteed to improve if you follow these 7 exercises; however, you must be disciplined and train your body to achieve good posture. Also, start today! It becomes much more difficult to improve bad posture the longer you put it off. Improving your posture will improve your life.

                Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

                Reference

                More by this author

                Dr. Jamie Schwandt

                Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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                Last Updated on November 20, 2018

                10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

                10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

                A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

                Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

                1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

                Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

                If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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                2. You put the cart before the horse.

                “Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

                3. You don’t believe in yourself.

                A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

                4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

                The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

                5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

                If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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                6. You don’t enjoy the process.

                Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

                The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

                7. You’re trying too hard.

                Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

                8. You don’t track your progress.

                Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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                9. You have no social support.

                It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

                10. You know your what but not your why.

                The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

                Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

                Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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                Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

                Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

                Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

                • The more specific you can make your goal,
                • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
                • The more encouraged you’ll be,
                • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

                I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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