A few weeks ago, I happened to get a glance at my slouching posture in front of a full-length mirror. My body looked a lot older than I felt. I immediately stood up straight with my chin parallel to the floor, my spine neutral, and my abdominal muscles “braced.” It was easy for me to see that when I adjusted my posture, I looked more energetic and fit than when I stood with a slouching posture.
As we age, it is not uncommon to develop poor posture from loss of muscle tone, spending too much time in front of the computer, and weakened bones. In addition to giving us an appearance of looking older and frailer, poor posture can also result in a number of different health challenges.
Poor Posture Associated with Health Issues
A Harvard Medical Report noted that slouching could lead to incontinence, heartburn, slower digestion, and constipation. Another report suggested that poor posture could affect our range of motion and could also decrease our lung capacity as we hunch forward. Of course, poor posture can certainly lead to back and neck pain. Additionally, poor posture can deprive us of oxygen, which can also affect our ability to stay mentally alert. And, when we don’t maintain good posture, our balance can be affected; poor balance can increase our risk of falling.
It’s Worth the Effort
Fortunately, most of us have a fair amount of control over our posture. For me, when I actually noticed my posture, it was the first step to making improvements To the best of my ability, I now try to be intentional when I sit, stand, and walk. I focus on keeping erect and standing tall as much as possible.
I’ve read that working on core muscles, back muscles, doing weight-bearing exercises, and eating a healthy diet can also help improve our posture. I do get a lot of exercise and have a healthy diet. Working on my core is something I will need to build into my daily routine.
This past week, I’ve been staying busy with three grandchildren (two ten-year-old grandsons and an eight-year-old grandson). I had one of them at my house at a time. I worked on my posture while walking and hiking with each of the boys. I was surprised that I had surplus energy by the end of each day.
Doing all that we need to do to stay healthy is a lot of work. But if we want to live our best lives as we age, we have to put in the effort.