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Improve your sitting posture

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Sit healthy

Even if you don’t have a desk job, there is a good chance you are on your duff much of the day. According to Dr Helen Lee, DC, a practitioner for ChicagoHealers.com, the average American sits for 56 hours a week, tapping away on the computer, straining over paperwork and, lets not forget, catching up on sit-coms and reality TV. All that sitting can lead to postural problems and even impact overall health. Because sitting is an inevitable daily activity, Dr Lee offers the following tips for improving your sitting posture.

Woman sitting at desk

Poor posture leads to poor health

It's no surprise that a sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain and poor health. Dr Lee, founder of Touch of Life Chiropractic in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, says, "Sitting for extended periods of time year after year can add to decreased circulation, slower metabolism, blood sugar imbalance, and create stress on postural muscle balance." This doesn't mean it's time to quit your desk job or chuck your TV; it simply means you need to improve your sitting posture.

Sitting posture tips

Dr Lee has a holistic approach to healthy posture that goes beyond simply sitting up straight.

1. Support your lumbar

Your chair can help or hurt your healthy posture efforts. Dr Lee suggests, "Sit in a chair with low back/lumbar support or put a small pillow behind your lower back, resting your buttocks and mid-back against the chair.

2. Develop a healthy sitting Posture

Even the best chair won't improve your posture if you tend to slouch, hunch over your keyboard, or cross your legs.

Next time you sit, try this:

  • Both feet flat on floor with knees slightly higher than hips or place step stool under feet.
  • Elbows comfortable at side or resting on an arm rest that allows your
    shoulders to be relaxed.
  • Shoulder blades gently engaged and not rounded forward.
  • Head looking straight ahead and chin gently tilted down and in.
  • Focus on abdominal or belly breathing through the day to increase oxygen to your body and keep relaxed.

3. Stay hydrated

Dehydration can make you tired and more likely to slump while you sit. Drink water, tea or juice throughout the day to stay well hydrated.

4. Get up and move

Move regularly, getting up every 15 to 30 minutes to stretch, move and breathe. If possible, take a brisk walk or fit in a mini fitness class. The increased circulation will boost your energy and even keep you from oversnacking at your desk.

5. Check your bed

You likely spend five to eight hours a day in your bed, which can have a significant impact your posture. Dr Lee says, "Sleep better by making sure your mattress offers support and is one that can be 'rotated' every few months to prevent body indentations."

Whether you have a corporate desk job, a home office, or spend a lot of time in the car, tune in to your posture while you sit during the day. It will not only improve your energy, relieve tension, and improve your health, it will also keep you looking your best.

More postural health tips

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