Wanna know a secret? You can look up to ten pounds thinner, have your clothes look better and ooze confidence with every step you take. And you might just get rid of those tension headaches and lower back pain too!
Sounds like a come on for a bad late night infomercial, right? It’s not. It’s actually what you’ll achieve if you pay attention to one often neglected area of body conditioning – your posture.
” You would be amazed at what a difference making a few simples changes in how you hold your body can make in not only how you look, how your clothes fit, even how young you look,” says personal trainer Sue Fleming, creator of the Buff Fitness line of DVDs and books.
Posture expert Janice Novak agrees. “We spend a lot of money on our clothes, our hair, our makeup, but without good posture your mid section can look at least a couple of inches wider than it is – and because you are also pushing your gut forward you are creating a pot belly that might not otherwise be there, ” says Novak,, director of ImproveYourPosture.com and author of the “Posture: Get It Straight ” series of books and DVDs.
What’s more, she says, your posture also influences how others see you. “They did some research about 10 years ago at the University of Louisville where 60 people were asked to rate the appearance of two women in a series of pictures – in some they were slumping, in others they were standing up straight … consistently viewers rated the women who were standing up straight to be younger and more attractive,” says Novak.
In fact, she says looking at just the bodies of the women, (the heads were masked) the study found the woman who weighed more – 125 pounds compared to the 105 pound model – was perceived as thinner and more attractive simply because she was standing up straighter and taller.
Personal trainer Jessica Bottsech isn’t surprised. ” “When you slump over, you lose inches in your height, so you are taking whatever your body mass is and scrunching it down, making yourself look shorter and wider,” says Bottesch, co-owner of Empower Personal Training studios in North Carolina.
On the reverse side, Fleming adds that ” When your body is in alignment, your head is sitting squarely on your shoulders, and your shoulders are pulled back with your core muscles pulled in, you not only increase your height and stretch out your body mass, making you look thinner, but you’re also projecting an image of confidence, of being more alert and more youthful, all of which makes you look more attractive.”
Better Posture Now: The 1 Minute Solution!
Although changing our posture may seem like a daunting, time consuming task, experts say real change can come about fairly quickly. Novak says you can begin the process in less than minute, with an “instant” re alignment technique for joints and bones.
How’s it done? “From either a standing or sitting position, simply lift your sternum, (the breast bone in the center of your chest) up just an inch or two – it will dramatically change what is going in with your posture instantly,” says Novak, who details several other similar techniques in her new DVD.
What’s technically going on, she says, is you are lifting your rib cage up off of your midsection and stopping the curve in the back that takes place when you slump forward. But even more importantly, she says ” it helps you get your head back over your shoulders where it belongs, plus it takes the stress off of the back and neck muscles.”
Novak says doing that one movement every time you are aware you are slumping forward will net you some real change in your day-to-day posture in as little as 3 weeks time.
“If you also add in a motion where you squeeze your shoulder blades together towards your spine, and tuck them down as if you were trying to put them in your back pocket, you’ll begin to strengthen the back muscles that will give additional support to your posture, so you may even see results sooner,” says Novak.
Bottsech says if you want to increase your muscle strength even more, try a few exercises that build core strength, as well as upper back strength, so that you’re mid section can be well supported.
“When your core and your upper back are strong it not nly makes it easier to stand up tall and straight, but it also helps overcome some of the health-related problems created by the muscle imbalances of poor posture, including lower back pain and neck pain,” says Bottsech.
To help get you started Bottsech offers these three quick and easy core strength posture builders. Be sure to check with your doctor first if you have any back, neck or spine issues. And if any exercise causes pain or is extremely difficult to do, stop and consult a physician or a personal trainer before continuing.
1.Pelvic Tilt – Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Place a folded towel under your lower back. Engage your abdominals by drawing your navel towards your spine as you press your lower back into the towel. Hold 5 seconds and repeat 10-15 times.
2.Arm Sweeps – Sit on the floor with your knees bent, your heels touching the floor and your toes lifted. Extend your arms to each side and rotate, lifting your right arm towards the ceiling, as your left arm touches the floor behind you. Reverse and have your left arm point to the ceiling while your right arm twists to touch the ground behind you. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
3.Cross Over Crunch- Cross Over Crunch – Lie on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place one hand behind your head for support. Engaging your abdominal muscles, slowly lift your head, neck and shoulders and bring left elbow to your right knee. Lower slowly and repeat on opposite side.
To read more about the health benefits of good posture visit WebMD.com – where you’ll find more posture tips from these experts!