Most of us spend the majority of our lives working and commuting to work. In our spare time we also enjoy activities such as reading, watching television, and spending time with our loved ones. What do most of these activities have in common throughout our lifetime? Sitting!
The Toll Sitting Takes on Your Health
A large portion of life as an employee requires extended periods of time seated in a chair, driving to work, and spending time with loved ones sitting at the dining room table. As we age, being in the seated position can have negative effects on our posture, which will also have a negative effect on our health.
As human beings we are structured to walk, run, and swim (if you learned) to accomplish tasks on a daily basis. We used to hunt, forage, farm our own food, and use our own feet when traveling from one location to another. This strengthened the muscles we needed when growing up and maintained our muscles as we aged. In our modern society, most professional careers have become sedentary and require less physical activity to get the job done.
Aging Well with Better Posture
One of the most apparent characteristics our body shows as we age is our posture. We remember the days in our youth when we stood tall, our shoulders were back, and we were probably a few inches taller. As we age, we and our loved ones begin to notice a change in posture in most individuals who had a sedentary profession. Even though some individuals remained active with a sedentary profession, other might not have taken the right steps to ensure good posture during the senior years, when it matters most.
The old saying is practice makes perfect; the new saying is perfect practice makes perfect! Even as many of us stay active, we are not performing the right exercises to maintain posture. Older individuals must perform the correct exercises to improve and maintain a healthy posture.
Tips for Improving Posture
Here are three tips for improving posture that you can use right away.
- Stretch often, and stretch the right muscles! Muscles that become tight from working most desk jobs and commuting in vehicles are our chest muscles, neck muscles, and leg muscles. Being hunched over for several hours a day contributes to muscle tightness in these areas. Bringing your arms out to the side and stretching your chest four to five times a day can stretch the affected chest muscle. Learning how to stretch the leg muscles (quadriceps and hamstrings) in both the seated and standing position will give you more flexibility and prevent poor posture as you age. Neck muscles become tight from staring at computer screens, sitting at desks and carrying stress from demanding jobs. Learn stretches that loosen the neck and take the weight off of your shoulders.
- Stand up every 30 minutes throughout the workday. Many of us get focused on our work and forget to stay active throughout the day. Standing up will stretch tight muscles, increase blood circulation, and give you a mental break before continuing the rest of your work.
- Strengthen the muscles that improve and maintain your posture. Muscles that support an upright posture need to be activated and stimulated to maintain their strength and endurance throughout a lifetime. Many of these muscles are weak and inactive during working hours, which can lead to being inactive for lifetime. Strength training exercises focusing on posture include TheraBand rows, hip extensions, and lateral shoulder raises, which have been shown to maintain correct posture in senior populations.
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