Opinion Column

Fit for Life: The importance of exercising good posture

By Donna Cotnam, Daily Observer

Your mom knew what she was talking about when she told you to sit up and stand up straight. This grahic shows good posture and bad posture for the body as Donna Cotnam explains the benefits of exhibiting good posture.

Your mom knew what she was talking about when she told you to sit up and stand up straight. This grahic shows good posture and bad posture for the body as Donna Cotnam explains the benefits of exhibiting good posture.

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Sit up straight!" "Don't slouch!" I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard those words from my mother when I was growing up. But as soon as she left the room… ‘resume slouch position,’ you too? Little did we know that mom wasn’t just annoyed with how we were standing or sitting, there is a reason behind it! She knew the importance of good posture.

What is good posture anyway and why is it so important? Basically posture refers to the body's alignment and positioning in the way that puts the least strain on your back and joints. Whether we are standing, sitting or lying down gravity exerts a force on our joints, ligaments and muscles. Good posture requires distributing the force of gravity through our body so no one structure (the knees, hips, low back) is overstressed.

Good posture is especially important when it comes to exercise. In most sports your performance will change easily when adjusting your posture. Lifting or lowering your shoulders, keeping your feet, knees and hips in alignment, these all factor in to the execution of your activity.

Proper posture and alignment using weights is extremely important. It will reduce the risk of injury to your joints and muscles. The same would apply to your day-to-day activities when lifting heavy objects. The placement of your feet, the slight bend in your knees and keeping your shoulders and hips square, all play an important role in maintaining good posture and strong muscles.

Our postural muscles or core muscles are found deep in the body, particularly in the abdominal, back and pelvis areas. Core muscles have three dimensional depth and three dimensional function – flexion and extension, lateral bending and rotation. It’s important to work the core muscles throughout their range of motion to ensure better posture.

There are many benefits to good posture. Good posture will boost your self-esteem; stand confident – be confident. Good posture can improve your state of mind. Often people you stand hunched over are not as outgoing and positive and those who stand more upright.

Your circulation and digestive system function much better with good posture. Try the breathing test. Sit slouched over and try to take a deep breath, then sit up nice and tall and do the same thing. You will see and feel a noticeable difference. Also more muscles engage and perform better when you sit or stand tall and breathe deep. All of your organs can be compromised when they are scrunched together as a result of poor posture. This can result in health issues.

Your spine and joints are much stronger when the muscles surrounding them are stronger. Without a lot of effort to work those muscles, maintaining good posture is a good start at staying strong. One of the best benefits to maintaining good posture is that proper posture makes you look slimmer. Ohhh, now I have your attention. So sit up or stand up straight!!!

If there is any specific fitness related questions you would like addressed please email them to fitmom@hotmail.com.