‘Good Posture – Healthy Mind’ by Kusal Goonewardena published in Great Health Guide (Nov 2016). Discover the importance of making good posture a healthy habit in your life. You don’t need to be an athlete to have immaculate posture. By adding just two minutes of posture practice into your morning routine, the benefits can have a greater impact than you think. Use these tips to improve your posture and overall well being for a better quality of life.
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Great Health: Good Posture – Healthy Mind!
written by Kusal Goonewardena
When thinking about posture, we tend to concentrate on the physical consequences – bad backs, headaches, pain and so on. But did you know that research has found your posture also influences your mental state?
ELITE ATHLETES USE POSTURE TO GET IN THE ZONE – POWER POSES.
Observe an athlete’s body language when they are training or at a meet and see how they use strong, positive body language. Elite athletes are the masters at standing tall and will often adopt ‘power poses’, such as standing with hands on hips (a la Wonder Woman).
Many of the elite athletes I work with have incorporated power poses into their routine – for example, in the morning, they will devote two minutes to sitting or standing strongly. They recognise that to reap the benefits from good posture, you need to make it a healthy habit.
While you may see elite athletes hunched over with exhaustion or pain, you almost never see them adopting negative body language such as slouching or closed-off stances with arms folded. This is because they understand the link between negative body language and how it may detract from performance. By contrast the open, upright posture you see in elite athletes, only partly results from physical fitness; it is also essential in creating the right mentality to perform.
YOU DON’T NEED TO BE AN ELITE ATHLETE TO BENEFIT FROM GOOD POSTURE
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Several recent studies have shown that good posture can have a powerful impact, particularly on our mind. A San Francisco University study found that adopting a more upright body posture can improve mood and energy levels. The study also found that a slouched or poor body posture can lead to ‘feelings of depression or decreased energy’.
This study linked posture with previous studies on movement, which showed that movement and exercise ‘open up biological pathways that increase happiness and energy’. These same feelings can be accessed when people adopt more open, upright postures.
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School, takes it one step further. Her research has showed that just adopting high power or low power poses for a period of two minutes has a measured hormonal effect.
Ms Cuddy’s research found that high power poses – good, strong posture – leads to higher testosterone, which is linked with higher confidence levels. High power poses also lower the ‘stress hormone’, cortisol. Only two minutes is enough to make you feel more assertive and confident.
The opposite is also true: adopting low power posture leads to lower testosterone levels and higher cortisol. Correcting poor posture is among the most important things anybody can do. Good, strong posture leads to higher testosterone & lower cortisol.
Both of these studies are big on the ‘fake it till you make it’ principle, showing you can essentially trick your mind into benefiting from the good posture vibes just by adopting a more open and upright stance.
There are other obvious physical benefits from good posture:
E.g. Good posture is linked with better breathing, which enables better concentration. The brain needs about 20% of our oxygen supply and some experts estimate posture makes up to a 30% difference in our breathing capacity.
Good posture is also good for backs. I see people every day who suffer physical problems owing to their posture – at least 85% of injuries can be related to incorrect posture. Sitting posture has become the most important to address as so many of us live more sedentary lifestyles.
The importance of making good posture a habit:
It’s possible to correct posture through repetition by using cues to ‘grow tall’. For example, you may remind yourself to grow tall every time you check your phone and your emails or you may partner up with a buddy so you can help each other. Before you know it, you have accumulated enough repetitions to make good posture a habit with long-lasting positive health effects.
If you wish to take it one step further, consider adopting the power poses, as discussed above. Just two minutes a day in a power pose–e.g.the Wonder Woman pose, standing open and upright, with hands on hips. The best time to adopt the power pose is early morning if possible.
Recent studies show that good posture promotes mental well-being
Adopting simple power poses can have a greater impact than you think
The key is making healthy posture habitual