Article written by Danielle Vernon, orthopedic physical therapist and specialist in spine and ergonomics conditions.   Danielle owns and operates WorkWise Ergonomic Consulting, LLC, a consulting firm in Austin, TX.

Our mothers always nagged at us to stand up straighter and not slouch. Shhhhh…don’t tell them but maybe they actually knew what they were talking about!  In the beginning, changing those bad habits will take time and attention but the results to your body, your mind, your self-esteem and your overall quality of life, will make it more than worth the effort.

Did you know that it takes 8-10,000 repetitions to re-educate a muscle. Who has time for that? But that is essentially what you do every day when you slump in your chair, in your car, at the table, on the couch, in your bed, etc. Those repetitions add up quickly. The good news is, what sounds like a lot in the beginning can quickly become second nature for your body, your workout, and overall health if you just put a few things in place early on. Becoming more aware of your posture can impact everything from digestion and energy levels to looking taller and skinnier.

Here are five reasons why posture makes perfect.

To Aide In Digestion

Poor posture increases the pressure on our stomach and intestines and decrease the ability of our food to move through the digestive process. It can hinders our body’s ability to efficiently absorb the nutrition that provides energy to keep us going and contribute to acid reflux by weakening the opening to your stomach and allowing acids to come back up into your throat.

To Improve Your Breathing

When you slouch, do you ever feel like it’s hard to get a deep breath? Poor posture places all your upper body weight on the diaphragm (the muscle responsible for pulling air into your lungs). If it can’t expand, neither will your ribcage and you’ll start to breathe more shallow, get tired more easily and find your body feels like it has less energy.

To Strengthen Your Core

Though few of us will ever have a 6-pack, poor posture may be the one thing preventing you from getting that slender, tight abdomen. Research says that our body can only retain its muscle memory for 1-2 hours after exercise without continued reinforcement. To maintain maximum benefit from your exercise routine, you need to find a way to keep your body in that healthy, upright alignment. If you’ve never tried a Backbone Cushion, this may help in areas where your posture is at the mercy of poor seating.

To Reduce Daily Aches and Pain

In a world where our jobs are becoming more sedentary and furniture is generically sized, slouching at your desk puts excess strain on the muscles that support your spine. IE. for every inch that your head (8-10 lbs) is in front of your shoulders, it doubles in weight. This means that by the end of the day, your head can feel like it weighs 35-40 lbs. Improving your posture by unlearning bad habits, sitting with your head back and working with your arms by your sides can significantly reduce minor aches and strains.

Look Slimmer and Taller

Ladies, (though we know men feel it too!) it’s true! Bad posture can make you look heavier and shorter than you are! Research shows that standing and sitting upstraight can make you look and feel 5 lbs lighter without dieting. So stand up, stand proud and rock that new posture with confidence.