The Positive Effects of Great Posture
The topic of the blog for this week: the essential value of Posture. As a dancer at a young age, posture was a topic that was regularly focused on. Do you recall your parents telling you “stand up straight” or “don’t slouch at the table?” Luckily for me, those were phrases I heard few and far between. Who knows what kind of posture I would have had if it weren’t for ballroom dancing. The best benefit I received from dancing is the fact that even when I am far away from the dance environment, people constantly ask me if I am a dancer. One time I was at the indoor pool while my children were taking a class and another mom stopped me and asked if I was a dancer! I asked, “What gave it away?” and she responded, “I can tell by the way you carry yourself.” I remember thinking to myself, “how cool is that!”
Now here is a question for you: how many minutes a day do you think about your posture? The answer may be scary for many of you: ZERO! Most people have jobs that require us to be seated and slouched over a computer all day, in addition to the lack of focus put on having good posture. To top it off, after a long day of working we get into our cars and sit in traffic to just get home and sit some more. What costs are we paying from our mostly sedentary lifestyles?
Whether it is at our place of business, home, or in the car, research shows that our mostly sedentary lifestyles equates to an average of 7.7 hours of sitting per day. Researchers are now referring to our long sitting habits as the “sitting disease.” Yes, disease! But why? In the 2010 American Journal of Epidemiology, the Cancer Society published a study over 123,000 men and women over a span of 13 years. Ready to hear what they found? You may want to sit down for this one. The men who were inactive and sat for longer than 6 hours per day were 48% more likely to die during that time period than men who were active and sat for 3 hours or less per day. Women within the same parameters were 94% more likely to die than their standing counterparts. Crazy, right? Ok, so maybe you should not have sat down for that one.
We all know that physical activity is extremely important to our overall health, but how we carry ourselves and our posture, whether we are sitting at work or going grocery shopping, can contribute to our health, success and overall happiness just as much. You may be thinking, well- what can help me achieve better posture then? Are you aware that there are contraptions that you actually wear? There’s one called the “Lumo Lift.” Basically, it vibrates when you slouch! I’m sure this works wonderfully, but you would not catch me wearing one of these. Better yet, your dance instructor can be your best bet when reminding you to maintain your shoulders back and/or head up. There are studies that support the notion that an open, powerful posture makes you feel and appear more confident. You will also look thinner and more appealing and feel more attractive! Studies aside, I have personally seen the difference that ballroom dancing- which encompasses physical activity and improved posture, has made on individual’s lives. For instance, and you will not believe this, we had the sweetest 83 year old woman who was in an awful physical condition: she had terrible posture- an extremely curved spine, but continued to take lessons from my now brother in law. Do you know what happened to her? One day, she came into the studio beaming with excitement because her Doctor told her that she had grown 2 inches over the first two years taking Ballroom Dance Lessons!
Whenever I see new dancer, go to competitions or even meet new people, I immediately judge them based on how they’re carrying themselves. As a dancer, it is instinct for me to look at this because I strongly believe that your body language, which is your posture and the way you carry yourself, shapes who you are. Not only does it influence how we are seen by others, but it can also hinder or transform how we see ourselves. If you want to appear more self-assertive, all you have to do is stand up straight with good posture. Luckily, ballroom dancing has been the best tool in my life to teach and instill good posture, and I believe this has mentally and physically shaped who I am today.
My wish for each and every one of you is to experience the positive effects of great posture. Please find a way to incorporate improving your posture into your everyday routine so that it becomes a habit. If you sit at a desk all day, or are driving most of the day, please get your booty up and moving! Any activity- going to the gym, walking the dog, going shopping, etc in which you are up and out of your seat, is a great step in helping improve your posture (of course I am partial to using ballroom dancing as means to improve these two things ;).
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