Having good posture is one of those things that never goes out of style. Did you ever meet someone who carried herself impeccably upright and wished you held yourself the exact same way? You likely tried to stand and sit taller for a few days and then accidentally reverted back to the occasional slumping (especially at work, where you’re behind a desk all day long).
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement or weight-bearing activities.” It’s particularly good for your health because its keeps your bones where they should be, eliminates back strain, and protects your body from fatigue. It also plays a crucial role in your appearance—a recent study found that those at a speed dating event who had good posture had a greater likelihood of being asked on a second date—plus, they also fared better on online dating apps.
Why is that? The team found that those who had an “expansive,” or open, posture appeared more welcoming, which made potential suitors want to get to know them better. Since you now know standing tall can help your health (and your love life), we’ve rounded up the top five ways for you to improve your posture—and you can start right now. Scroll through to see how.
Do snow angel exercises
You probably haven’t done this move since you were a kid, but it’s the key to lengthening the muscles you likely haven’t worked in a while. In the morning and at night, lie down on the floor and make snow angels for two to three minutes. As you gradually become more flexible, put a foam roller or towel behind your spine as you do the exercises. Be wary, and stop if any movements cause you pain or discomfort, advises Jonathan F. Bean, MD, an assistant professor in the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.
Empty out your handbag
Have you ever noticed at the end of the day that your bag seems heavier? It gets weighed down with loose change, your cell phone, day planner, sunglasses, and much more. Edit down what you're carrying, or switch to a smaller bag to avoid overloading. If you need to carry something heavy like a laptop with you, switch off between arms every 10 to 20 minutes.
Take up yoga
Like the snow angel movements, certain yoga moves will actually help straighten and lengthen your back. Begin by learning poses like the child’s pose, mountain pose, and bridge pose, which are known to be helpful when it comes to improving posture. Take breaks at work if possible and head to a private room or office to do a few poses once a day. This should help keep muscles from cramping up and help you avoid slouching.
Enroll in voice lessons
This might sound odd, but the basics of proper singing technique require that you stand tall with your chest open. If you’re the type of person who needs a bit more instruction and a reminder when it comes to posture, this one may be for you. Plus, bonus points for learning a new hobby.
Change up your workspace
Don't forget you're probably spending at least 40 hours a week at the office. “Sitting up with good, tall posture and your shoulders dropped is a good habit to get into,” says Rebecca Seguin, PhD, an exercise physiologist and nutritionist. Changing up your desk environment is key to helping: A wrist pad makes arms more comfortable and a supportive desk chair set to the proper height is crucial (we like how the below chair is pretty but has a firm back).
Be sure to read about five daily habits of people who age well, and tell us which way to improve posture you want to try first in the comments.