We all know how important posture is for our health (not to mention how much better you look when you stand up nice and straight). Yet we all slouch from time to time. You may not think it’s a big deal, but the truth is that when you slouch, your body reacts in some really scary ways.
Forget how it looks. Your poor posture could be having a seriously negative impact on your health in ways you’ve never even imagined. Luckily, there are simple and fast solutions to this pervasive problem. Just be mindful of your posture and resist the urge to slouch every chance you get. Your body will be a lot happier for it.
Here are seven things that happen to your body when you slouch —and why keeping your back straight is one of the best things you can do for your health.
1You get headaches
Have a pounding migraine for no clear reason? It might be your poor posture. Slouching can give you serious headaches, cause major muscle tension in your neck, and leave you feeling utterly miserable. Rather than suffer through this, keep your head up and your back straight. Your head will feel better, and you’ll be preventing a chronic headache condition.
2Your breathing changes
Take a deep breath before reading this next section and try to remain calm. When you slouch, you actually change the way you breathe. Your chest constricts, the muscles contract, and a whole host of other factors alter the way you’re taking in air.
If you don’t improve your posture, these changes can end up being permanent. The good news? All you need to do is sit up straight (especially when you’re at your desk) to fight off these bad breathing changes.
3It weakens your upper body strength
It’s a vicious cycle; weak upper body strength leads to slouching, which in turn weakens your upper body even more. Your core can be affected by this too, destroying all that hard work you put in at the gym. The solution? Do exercises that focus on your upper body, making sure to take extra care to tone your back and shoulders. You’ll look good and feel great.
4You feel bad about yourself
Besides how bad it looks to see someone hunched far over their laptop or slumped low in their seat, that slouch can actually hurt your self esteem. Studies indicate that slouching and depression are connected: those with bad posture are more likely to have negative self-talk and a worse overall image of themselves.
So fight those negative feelings by sitting up straight and tall. Your positive posture could soon pave the way for some improved self esteem.
5It causes constipation
Being folded up on yourself can back up your inner-workings, leaving you feeling miserable in more ways than one. Constipation is an unexpected side effect of slouching (and definitely one of the least pleasant). Fight back by keeping your back straight, staying well-hydrated, and making sure you get your daily intake of fiber.
6It causes pain in your back, neck, and shoulders
Basically your whole body can end up miserable when you slouch. Hunching forward all day creates tension in your nerves, resulting in pain throughout your shoulders, neck, and back. You can even end up with a pinched nerve, which is excruciating.
If you find yourself slouching at your desk during the day, take a few minutes to stand up and walk around. Keep your head up and your shoulders back, and soon you’ll be feeling (and standing) a whole lot better.
7It hurts your memory
Feeling forgetful? Your bad posture could be to blame. When you slouch, you’re hurting your circulation and cutting off blood flow to the brain, which can make you feel cloudy and forgetful. Sitting up straight gets the oxygen and bloody flowing back to your brain, and some studies show a dramatic increase in memory retrieval as a result.
At the very least, sitting up tall will make you look sharp and focused, and feel a whole lot better. So straighten up—you’ve got your health to think about, after all.