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Before you start reading this, take a moment. Now take a deep breath, straighten your back, push your shoulders back and pull your stomach in slightly. How do you feel? More alert, stomach muscles tightened and slimmer, right?

If you can feel such a difference in just a few seconds, imagine the difference it can make in your overall health, physical appearance and personality if you sit, stand and walk in the correct posture all the time.

In my previous posts, I’ve talked about ways to boost your metabolism, fighting those hunger pangs and the benefits of drinking water at the right times. But in today’s post, you’ve barely got to do anything, and yet it can go a long way in keeping you fit and healthy.

How maintaining a good posture became important to me

My grandfather always said: Walk tall, sit tall, feel tall. What he meant was always sit, stand and walk in the correct posture. It is the first step towards a toned and thinner body. Of course, just maintaining a correct posture is not a substitute for regular stomach exercises, yoga, weight and strength training, and dietary changes. However, it is a method to maintain your already flat belly and perhaps even help you cut inches off your waist.

When I was younger, I hardly ever heeded my grandpa’s advice. I remember that prior to my 10th Standard board exams, I would sit slouching for hours, studying. It was a few days before I saw myself in the mirror and spotted an ugly bulge on my stomach. Having an otherwise thin frame and being rather concerned about my appearance, I began to practice sitting up straight with my stomach pulled in at all times.

Correcting my posture did not make my stomach absolutely flat but it helped make it tighter and make me look visibly thinner. I also felt less lethargic. Sometimes it would get frustrating since my back would hurt and I would feel a little uneasy, but my willpower didn’t falter. Once you get habituated to sitting straight, you will feel uncomfortable every time you start to slouch. The whole practice made me more mindful about the correctposture and within a few days, it became a part of me. It is nature’s rule that anything done consistently for 30 days usually becomes a part of us.

The correct and incorrect posture while standing

What are the ill-effects of slouching?

1. Slouching in your chair or while standing can cause you to develop a stomach pouch or protruding belly. You may be slim all over but an incorrect posture can lead to an unattractive paunch that’s difficult to fix.

2. Slouching makes the organs stick to one another. Normally in our bodies, there is space between each organ, which is important for their proper functioning, for blood circulation in the body and to breathe deeply. For example, the muscles of the rib cage and diaphragm aid the lungs in breathing deeply and correctly. It also allows the stomach and intestines to contract and expand correctly for healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients. Poor posture can reduce lung capacity and create digestive problems like acidity, constipation, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and a feeling of sluggishness.

3. By slouching and hunching, we do not use the muscles of the back and abdomen correctly, causing them to sag and weaken over time. This makes the stomach muscles look loose and the belly large.

4. Slouching also creates unsightly lines across your stomach. But as your posture improves, these lines will lighten or may disappear completely.

5. An incorrect posture also causes back problems like back pain, slip disc, and the over-curving of the spine to the front. This is known as kyphosis and when it happens due to slouching, it results in a hunchback-like appearance. This adds to back ailments like a stiff back, back pain and sometimes even spondylitis.

The benefits of being upright 

1. By standing and sitting straight with one’s stomach pulled in instantly makes you look taller and slimmer.

2. A correct posture strengthens the back and abdominal muscles, which reduce the flabbiness of the stomach.

3. A correct posture leads to correct blood circulation which means more oxygen in our system, a higher metabolism which burns more fat and an overall increase in energy.

4. It will help keep ailments like back pain and slip disc at bay because a correct posture works as a 24/7 preventive exercise that strengthens the stomach and back muscles, putting less pressure on the discs. When we slouch, nerve connections stemming from the spinal cord are squeezed by these discs giving rise to various forms of backache.

5. It allows the unrestricted movement of the muscles of the rib cage and diaphragm, which helps in breathing deeply and correctly. It also allows the stomach and intestines to contract correctly for healthy digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Just maintaining a correct posture can go a long way in keeping us healthy and also slim to some extent. However, this is not a substitute for exercise and a good diet, and cannot produce the same effects as intensive physical exercise. But it’s definitely a great start!

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