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America has a Posture Problem. Here's How to Fix It.

I'm no stranger to slouching. Ask any one of my friends or family members, and they'll share tales of my horrendous sitting and standing posture on a random Tuesday. As I'm typing this, I'm currently hunched over on a reclining sofa, relinquishing the comfort of my neck and shoulders for a more convenient sitting position. It's hardly ergonomic.

According to Harvard Health, poor posture comes from "modern-day habits like working in front of a computer, slouching on a couch while watching TV, or looking down at a smartphone." In other words, things that we do everyday affects our wellbeing, whether we realize it or not. The above activities can make us stoop or droop our shoulders, which then leads to even more consequences related to our back and abdomen muscles. Over time, as "collapsed vertebrae stack up, the spine becomes rounded and bends forward, a condition called dowager's hump (dorsal kyphosis)." Not to scare anyone, but poor posture can aggravate or cause health effects such as heartburn, headaches, or even breathing difficulties.

So why do we persist in our posture habits despite so many health advisories telling us not to? I surveyed my friends, many of whom also slouch in their chairs, on their reasons. Several said that they don't even notice when they're slouching, and others say that they don't frankly care. And in national polls, the average American adult looks down at their smartphones for 3.5 hours or more each day—but less than half actually consider poor posture to be a problem. America, it's time to wake up. Or rather, sit up.

To achieve perfect posture, start by focusing on your spine, which should be neutral and upright—not flexed too forward or backward. Then, pull your shoulders down and back, rest your head naturally on its spine, and engage your core by bringing your belly button in. If you struggle with sitting upright in a chair, use a lower back support pillow to help you. Most importantly, change up sitting positions every hour to ensure that blood is flowing. If you can, use the 50/10 rule—stand and walk for 10 minutes every 50 minutes.

Now that you've mastered your posture, go try it out and help your loved ones achieve it too. After all, productivity and overall health tend to skyrocket once our bodies are aligned. Maybe I'll adjust my seating too—right after posting this article.



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