Sit up straight. Don’t slouch.

Body

How often did you hear those words growing up? As it turns out, mom was right. Bad posture doesn’t just make you look lazy; it can actually be harmful to your health. By taking steps to improve your posture you can also improve: 

· Back and neck pain

· Headaches

· Constipation

· Breathing

· Concentration

· Stress level

· Self-confidence

When your body is in proper alignment, it should feel effortless. Here are some tips on maintaining good posture:

For standing:

  • Keep your feet about shoulder width apart, with your weight on the balls of your feet, not your heels
  • Stand tall with your head up, chin parallel to the floor, shoulders open, stomach tucked in, and arms hanging naturally at your sides

For sitting:

  • Keep your head up and shoulders relaxed
  • Place your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent at 90°
  • Do not cross your legs
  • Sit at the back of the chair and rest your lower back against the chair. Do not lean forward or hunch
  • If using a computer, your arms should be at a 90°, not reaching out in front of you
  • Keep your monitor a little below eye level and about an arm’s reach away

For sleeping:

  • The best position is on your back with a pillow under your knees
  • The second best position is on your side, with a small flat pillow between knees
  • Avoid sleeping on your stomach, which can be hard on the neck and cause back strain
  • Your head should be level with your spine

In a Harvard study, subjects who adopted good posture had a 25% decrease in the stress hormone cortisol. That translates into a calmer you—just by sitting up straight. Here are some tips:

  • Set reminders. Use post it notes, computer alarms or your phone
  • Do exercises. Yoga, Pilates or simple stretches help strengthen your core
  • Imagine a string. Pretend your head and neck are held by a string in the ceiling. This visualization trick usually works
  • Lighten your load. Avoid carrying heavy purses and backpacks
  • Hold the phone properly. Don’t tilt your head to the side or forward while texting