Written by Bonny Osterhage
There’s a funny thing that happens, as we get older: people we once saw eye-to-eye with, now seem to look down on us—literally! There are some things in life we are happy to see diminish in size (our waistlines for example), but our height isn’t one of them. The good news is, you probably aren’t actually shrinking—you may have just hit that “midlife slump,” and there are plenty of things you can do about it.
What causes “the slump”? Sure, things like osteoporosis or arthritis can play a starring role, but one of the biggest causes (and one that is easily corrected) is poor posture. We spend so much time sitting at desks and hunched over computers that eventually we pay the price in the form of a stooped stance or lower back pain. A little body awareness goes a long way when it comes to improving your posture. So does building and strengthening your core. We aren’t suggesting you walk around with books balanced on your head, but we do suggest you try a few of the following tips for standing tall.
Get On the Ball
The stability ball that is! If you are behind a desk all day, consider swapping your company issued chair for one with a stability ball base like this one from GAIAM. Designed to improve your posture and spinal alignment, these ergonomic designs also require you to engage your core muscles for balance, putting a little workout into your workday. Also make sure that your computer is at the right height to avoid hunching forward. A computer stand or a stack of books should do the trick when it comes to keeping your screen at eye level.
Just Say OM
Yoga and Pilates are two of the best ways to strengthen your core while lengthening your muscles and improving balance and flexibility, all of which can help improve your posture. Both forms of exercise also help you to bring awareness to your body through the poses, movements, and breath work, making it easier over time to feel when you are slouching or when your body is out of proper alignment. Read more on yoga poses that are great during menopause, here
Put Your Back Into It
How many times have you heard an exercise instructor tell you to “engage your core,” and you immediately sucked in your stomach? While it’s true that your abs and obliques make up a large part of your core muscle group, there are many other muscles including your lower back and glutes that play an integral part when it comes to your daily, functional movements like standing, bending, and lifting. If you want to lessen your risk of injury and improve your posture, focus on your ENTIRE core, not just on toning your tummy.
Move Your Body
Again, if your job is one that has you sitting most of the day, make sure that you take frequent breaks to stand and stretch. Go for short walks around your office, breathing deeply into your belly, as you expand your chest, roll your shoulders back, and keep your gaze forward. Above all, avoid looking at your phone as you walk. Not only does this force your body into an unnatural position and place strain on your neck, you could also run into something, or trip. Save the scrolling for when you are safely seated.
Avoiding the “midlife slump” by maintaining good posture and core strength keeps your body moving well and feeling good, but it also affects your physical appearance and the way people perceive you. Standing or sitting up straight makes you look taller, more confident and alert. So hold your head up, regardless of age, and if all else fails, you can always try balancing those books on your head.