Good posture isn’t just about looks. How we sit, stand, and walk affect both our health and our moods. So stop slouching and get centered with these top 10 posture tips.
10. Get the Wii Fit
This isn’t an option for everyone, since it involves investing in an expensive video game system, but if you have the Nintendo Wii or Wii U, I highly recommend the Wii Fit. Sometimes you can find the game, balance board, and fitness tracker for just $20—well worth the price for a unique game that focuses on measuring your balance and keeping you moving every day. In the first week of playing the game, my posture went from severely unbalanced to the right to centered (and I think about my posture constantly now, which I guess is a good thing). If you don’t have the Wii or Wii U, perhaps play any other video games standing up. Sitting all day is killing us and many of us could be better off standing more.
9. Test Your Posture and Learn to Stand Properly
That all depends, of course, if you’re standing properly to begin with. Test your back and neck posture against a wall or check this illustration to find any areas you need to work on when standing. Become more aware of your feet when you’re standing and adjust your weight so it’s distributed evenly across both feet. These seven moves will test your basic mobility and core strength.
8. Do Yoga or Work on Your Core Strength
Exercises that strengthen your core will help you stand taller and help you maintain the proper posture. I like yoga because it also emphasizes body awareness and balance—and you can work up to some pretty badass poses. Pilates and any other exercises that focus on your core will help with your posture too.
7. Sit at a 135 Degree Angle
When you do have to sit, make sure you’ve got a good chair that supports your back and is ergonomic for your workspace (more on that below). Sitting at a 135-degree angle could put less strain on your spine, but you’d have to adjust your workspace accordingly. If you don’t care to recline, check out this animated guide to the do’s and don’ts of sitting.
6. Adjust Your Posture in Every Situation
It’s not just at our desks that we have to think about our posture. We need to sit up straight when driving (adjusting your rear view mirror could help). Our posture when we’re sleeping, the type of pillow we use, and the type of mattress we sleep on will affect how we hold ourselves during the day. If you have to work from bed, do it in a way that won’t wreck your posture. And in the kitchen, you might need to adjust the height of your counters to keep from hunching over.
5. Learn to Breathe Properly
How we breathe can deeply affect how we move and how we feel. Learn to breathe more effectively, using your diaphragm, and try breathing exercises that focus on lengthening your spine and engaging your waist muscles and lower core muscles.
4. Use Apps to Improve Your Posture
Remembering to stand and sit properly is hard work, so thankfully there are apps to help us out. Nekoze is a cute app that uses your Mac’s camera to keep an eye on your posture—a cat (icon) will warn you when you’re slouching. There are other posture trainers for iOS and Android, but if you’re not into apps using your camera, build your own posture sensor for your chair.
3. Hold Your Phone and Tablet Properly
Constantly craning your neck down to stare at our phones isn’t helping. Try holding your phone straight in front of you instead of bending your head down, and similarly propping your tablet up perpendicular to the table if you’re just reading.
2. Fix Your Workstation
If you’re a desk jockey, you might get the most posture improvement from setting up your workstation properly. Figure out the ideal desk height, whether sitting or standing, and keep your feet flat on the floor when sitting (an easy way to find the right seat high is to level it with your knees). Here’s our complete guide to setting up an ergonomic workspace.
1. Do Posture-Correcting Exercises
Good posture involves training your body to be in the proper position, with the least amount of strain possible on your supporting muscles. In addition to these do’s and don’ts for posture, we’ve shared several simple exercises you can do to improve your posture:
Of course, if you have serious posture issues or pain, you’ll want to consult a doctor. But for most of us who just aren’t as well aligned as we should be, the tips above will hopefully help prevent pain and boost well-being.
Illustration by Fruzsina Kuhári. Photos by Sarah Kathleen Peck, Bigstock.