As you age, your body changes -- certain muscles get tighter and others get weaker. As a result of tighter chest muscles and weaker back muscles, posture deteriorates. Shoulders round and the head moves forward. Depending on your age, you can prevent, stop, or reverse this trend with the right forms of exercise.
When you improve your posture, you protect your muscles, joints and ligaments from excess strain. Your spine is less prone to injury from everyday activities when it is supported by muscles that enable excellent posture. You are also less likely to suffer injuries when bending and twisting if you hold your body in proper alignment. Good posture also decreases the risk of falling.
Both strength and flexibility exercises are the best exercises to improve posture. I strongly suggest that you read more about the benefits of strength training and the importance of flexibility after you learn the gentle movements presented here.
The following exercises are easy to perform, and you can do them anywhere and at any time.
You can do them every day and as many times as you want while maintaining correct form.
Note: Some people have a tendency to hold their breath and push their stomach outward when doing certain movements. Concentrate on breathing deeply while holding your stomach in.
Sit in a chair, on a couch, or at the edge of your bed. You might consider sitting on an exercise ball to engage other muscles. Place your feet flat on the floor, and straighten your back while allowing your shoulders to roll slightly backwards. Raise your shoulders up toward your ears while taking a deep breath. This motion comes entirely from your shoulders. Hold your shoulders up for a moment, and then slowly release them back to your starting position while exhaling on the way down.
You should end each shoulder raise with your shoulders rolled slightly back, your chin held high, and your back straight.
This is a one of those great exercises to improve posture that you can perform during television commercials, while riding in the passenger seat of a car, or if you're passing time in a waiting room. It doesn’t take much effort, but it can make a significant difference if you do it consistently over a long period of time.
Seated Arm Ups
Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight, and your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your lap, keeping your arms loose and comfortable but close to your body. Raise both arms so they are extended to each side. Bend your elbows while bringing your hands in front of you until your fingertips are touching directly in front of your chest and your elbows are up and out to the sides.
Press your shoulder blades together as you raise your elbows as high as you can, inhaling on the way up. Hold for a couple seconds, and then lower your hands back to your lap as you exhale. Repeat as many times as you feel comfortable.
This exercise helps to straighten your back and drop your shoulders into proper alignment. It also strengthens and stretches your shoulder blades and back muscles so that your spine is well supported.
You can perform this exercise seated or standing. It’s a great way to fill those idle moments when you’re waiting in line or at a red light. It takes very little motion but can help strengthen and stretch your shoulders so that it’s easier to maintain proper posture throughout the day.
Start by raising your shoulders up toward your ears as your arms are relaxed at your sides. Drop and roll your shoulders back slightly, and then round them down to your starting position. You are essentially drawing big, backward circles with your shoulders.
You can also perform this movement by extending your arms out on each side and making circular motions with your arms. This extended arm movement is great to do in water because of the added resistance.
These exercises to improve posture are a great start; but, the best thing you can do is pay close attention to how you sit and stand in daily life.
Make an effort to straighten up if you notice that your shoulders are slouching or your back is curved. Pick your head up and make an effort to look people in the eye rather than walking with your face to the ground.
Include strength and flexibility exercises twice each week. Strong abdominal muscles are necessary to maintain good body posture during almost all daily activities and for normal spine functioning.
Remember what your mother always told you about standing straight. It was great advice!