Posture’s Place in a Healthy and Happy Life

Who doesn’t want to lead a long, happy, healthy, and productive life? We all understand that regular exercise and healthy diets go a long way to helping us achieve this. But there is a third, often neglected, pillar that we want to highlight – and that’s posture.

While mental and physical well-being have, for many of us, become a central part of our lives, and we exercise, eat well, and sometimes even meditate or practice yoga – we mostly don’t think about how we sit and stand at home and work. The problem is, posture has a big effect on our health, mental agility and happiness

As we age, we often experience a degree of cognitive decline – that is, our thought processes become slower and our memories less efficient.

A recent study by Cohen, R. et al. (2016) looked into this. It tested adults aged between 50 and 89 years old, with good brain health. Participants had to complete a range of both mental (cognitive) and physical tasks.

Though of course, age, body mass index and other variables came into the results, posture was also a key factor. When it came to verbal memory performance in the cognitive part of the test, poor results were “best predicted by a combination of advanced age, male sex, low education and acute neck angle.”

The study concluded that posture and mobility had a direct correlation with cognitive processes. The results show that there may well be a link ”between postural alignment and cognitive functioning in healthy older adults.”

It is therefore important to take steps to keep your posture strong – and your neck at a healthy angle, in order to minimise this risk of decline.

Unfortunately, the way we position our computers at work, the way we sit at home and work – even the way we hold our mobile devices – can all negatively affect our posture.

We are all guilty of crossing our legs, slouching, or staring down at our phones – and perfect posture is hard to achieve 100 percent of the time. However, there are certain techniques you can employ right away, in order to improve your posture and overall health.

So, here are a few ways to start improving your posture awareness while seated:

  1. Keep your feet flat on the floor and don’t cross your legs.
  2. Make sure your back is straight and that your shoulders are pulled back (but not uncomfortably).
  3. Be sure that your behind touches the back of the chair.
  4. Move around and try not to sit in one position for longer than 30-40 mins.

While using mobile devices:

  1. Don’t hold your phone in your lap or too far below your chin, it forces you to look down at an unnatural, acute angle.
  2. Hold your phone higher so that you aren’t putting additional strain on your neck muscles.
  3. Minimize the use of your phone (typing, browsing the internet, etc.), while on the move, as this ruins your posture. Calls are okay, especially when they are hands free.

Treat your body well, it’s the only one you’ve got. If you take your posture seriously, you will see positive results and possibly reduce the level of cognitive decline later on in life.