Have you ever had the thought, “Gee, I want to walk hunched over with my ears between my shoulders when I’m seventy!”?
I don’t think anyone wants that, but a lot of our postures and habits lead us in that direction! This posture, beautifully illustrated, is an example of hyperkyphosis; it’s a condition in which there is an severe, excessive curve in the thoracic spine (the upper part of your back, where your ribs connect to your spine). If you sit in front of a computer, or have a long commute, your chances of having hyperkyphosis in the future are higher.
What do I mean by that? Well, consider the future for a moment. Not next year, not five years down the road, but think about what you’d like life to be like when you’re seventy, eighty, and older. Life doesn’t just stop, it usually winds down. So, the healthier you are now, the more independent you’ll be when you’re older. Most people who require care are not desperately ill; they have lost some physical functionality. They can’t move easily enough to run errands, cook, clean, or take care of their homes or their selves.
Okay, so you eat right and try to exercise regularly. That’s great! What more do you need to do to make sure you are the person running marathons or climbing mountains at seventy, not comparing medications with the other folks at the home? Surprisingly, your posture may be much more important to your health than you think.
There are some obvious benefits from standing and sitting up straight; you look more alert, more cheerful, and more approachable. Not to mention (for the single folks) more attractive! Good posture makes you look 10 years younger and 10 pounds lighter*.
Good postures and habits, though, can affect your independence and even your longevity, years in the future. When you slouch over, your muscles have to work harder (leading to faster aging, over the years), and the nerves and blood vessels to your organs and muscles have to work harder, as well. For example, a digestive system with a poor blood and nerve supply will just not function very well! Poor posture can create other problems, as well. Hyperkyphosis is associated with restrictive pulmonary disease, atherosclerosis, and degenerative disc disease*.
I have an additional challenge for you; for the rest of this day, take note of the posture of those around you- at work, in the grocery store, etc. Who looks tired? Who looks self-confident? Is there a correlation between those assumptions and the person’s posture? Please comment here or email me with your observations and questions!