5 Unexpected Ways Posture Affects Your Health and Mood

When your parents said “Stand up straight!”, they weren’t kidding!

I don’t know about you, but when I heard that as a child, my eyes would roll. Now that I am a chiropractor, I understand just how important proper posture is – not just from a physical standpoint – but also from a health, appearance, and hormonal standpoint.

Proper posture plays an important role in your health and wellness. Not only does posture affect your joints by redistributing weight, causing joints to bear more stress, but it also affects your mood and how you are perceived by others. There’s more to the story than meets the eye.

1. Proper posture sends the message that you are strong and confident.

Have you ever heard of someone who’s weak referred to as “spineless”, whereas someone who is proud and confident has a “backbone”? If you want to appear more vital and confident in your workplace, it is important to sit and stand up straight.

There is a simple method to both transform people psychologically and signal power to others: altering your body posture.

Across species, body posture is a primary representation of power. From fish to reptiles to lower mammals to human’s closest evolutionary cousins, non-human primates, power is expressed and inferred through expansive postures, large body size, or even the mere perception of large body size through expansive postures.

2. Improper posture can lead to health problems over time.

spineA January 2014 article in the Washington Post titled, The Health Hazards of Sitting, reported the following health problems that can occur as a result of prolonged sitting with poor posture: high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, brain fog, neck pain, disc problems, muscle atrophy and internal organ damage – and a higher mortality rate.

3. Good posture can make you feel happier.

In a randomized trial published in the September 2014 of Health Psychology, 74 participants were assigned to have an upright or slouched posture. Researchers found that the upright participants reported feeling more “enthusiastic, excited, and strong, while the slumped participants reported feeling more fearful, hostile, nervous, quiet, still, passive, dull, sleepy, and sluggish,” study authors wrote. Good posture was also associated with higher self-esteem, less social fear and fewer negative emotions.

4. Standing and sitting up straight makes you appear thinner.

When you slouch in your chair, your internal organs are squeezed and have nowhere to go but down and out. When we sit up straight and tall, everything is elongated; therefore, you tend to look slimmer. When we stand as opposed to sit, we burn 20% more calories and strengthen our muscles, boost metabolism and increase bone density.

5. Posture affects your hormones.

In a 2012 Ted Talk, Amy Cuddy presented revolutionary research regarding how changing your posture actually affects your hormone levels, showing that by simple posture changes, we can make ourselves feel more confident.

The Harvard social psychologist showed that people who adopted powerful postures (open shoulders and straight spines) had a 20% increase in testosterone levels and a 25% decrease in cortisol levels—but people who slouched had a 10% decrease in testosterone and a 15% increase in cortisol. What does that mean to you? The decrease in testosterone and increase in cortisol translates into low self-confidence and high stress.

Powerful Postures increase testosterone 20% and decrease cortisol levels 25%

My advice? Get up and move around! Need help remembering to get up from your computer? Set a timer on your phone or alarm clock for 1 hour. Experiment with your posture and see how it makes you feel differently. The more you are in tune with your own body and how you feel, the happier you will be. You will also be healthier in the process!

Dr. Amy Cannatta is a Chiropractor, Image Strategist, Public Speaker, and Mentor in Connecticut. She helps entrepreneurs who are stepping into higher-level positions match their image and public persona with their brand’s message. Visit her website to learn more.