Poor posture while sitting for extended periods of time has the potential to lead to many negative side effects. We all know that sitting improperly has a definite impact on our bodies, especially our backs. However, there are many unseen impacts that you might not have considered.
Complications from sitting incorrectly can be felt not only in your body, but also in your mind. It’s effects can greatly impact your ability to physically, mentally, and emotionally function.
Sitting all day is one of the worst things you can do for your health. By remaining in seated position for a long period of time, your digestive organs become compressed and not capable of functioning at ideal levels.
This is bad for the digestive process, as it is dramatically slowed down, potentially leading to discomfort, constipation, or delayed metabolic conversion.
Bad posture has been proven to have a negative effect on mood. Those who sit for extended periods of time report higher levels of depression (read more). Those who sit for more than 7 hours per day are at a 47% higher risk of depression than those who sit for 4 hours or less.
When you remain seated your external and internal processes are slowed and your energy levels also decrease, further affecting your overall mood.
3. Work Performance
As much as we like to abide by the “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” attitude, the reality is that we are all guilty of doing it. Bad posture affects the way that you are percieved by others.
If you are hunched over at your desk, co-workers or supervisors may assume that you are tired, disinterested, or unmotivated.
On the contrary, improving the way you carry yourself increases alterness, decreases fatigue, and allows you to be more productive at work, benefiting both you and your employer.
4. Varicose Veins
Sitting still for long periods of time can lead to the formation of spider veins, particularly in women. The increased pressure of sitting and lack of circulation throughout the body is to blame for this.
5. Increased Stress Levels
Compressing your body is bad for breathing, which in turn affects the nervous system. To compensate for this constriction, our lungs and heart have to work harder causing taxation and ultimately stress in the body.
To further illustrate the effect that slouching has on creating stress, we can look at nature. When a cat gets frightened its back arches. The cat’s body has an innate knowledge that stress and spinal curvature go hand in hand. Our bodies are no different.
Sitting upright with broad shoulders and an open chest allows you to breathe easier and also increases hormone levels making you feel more empowered which further decreases stress.
How do I Improve My Posture?
Can you improve your posture and how so? Here are a few tips easy modifications to your daily routine that will quickly yield positive benefits for your body.
1. Get up!
Get up from your chair regularly. Doctors from every discipline (orthopedists, chiropractics, etc) all recommend that you take breaks often. You may do this simply when you start feeling sore or restless or you may choose to “take a lap” around the office. Alternately, simply standing up to perform some desk-side stretching can do wonders for your circulation and your mood.
Slouching is generally a slow process, we don’t start out do some yogaslouching when we go to sit, but as we stay seated longer, we relax and sink into our chairs.
If you get up intermittently, you are able to reset your body position and are more likely to return to your seat with better ergonomics.
2. Yoga and Pilates
Practicing yoga or pilates are both good ways to improve your posture and overall health. Yoga and pilates encourage us to lengthen our bodies and increase muscle strength allowing us to support our spinal column with ease while sitting.
In addition, Yoga has many positive mental and emotional benefits that can help to widdle away at stress and other occupational hazards.
3. Strengthen Your Abdominal Muscles
The strength of your abdominal muscles greatly affects your ability to support your entire body. The core muscle group is a system comprised of the abdominals, lower back, and obliques (side muscles). When you strenghten one, you strengthn the whole.
Stronger abs can take some of the pressure off of your back. When your back feels less strained, it becomes much easier for you to continue to sit erect without effort.
4. Buy an Ergonomic Chair
One of the hardest parts about sitting properly is actually remembering to do it. An ergonomic chair without a back rest, will train you to sit upright, without any conscious effort from you. We highly recommend kneeling chairs (seen right) for their ability to automatically encourage ideal posture.
Kneeling chairs are more superior than regular chairs in supporting the natural curvature of the spine. With the knees tilted downward, the hips are allowed to rotate forward, giving you the natural lordodic curvature in your lower back.