28 Jan Good Posture for Breathing, Digestion and Productivity
Why is good Posture Important?
Great posture can literally change who you are! Not only does great posture help to stop you from getting back and neck pain, it can also improve your mood, stress levels, confidence, your digestion, breathing and even your productivity and appearance. In the first post we looked at the influence of poor posture on back and neck pain and injury and also appearance. In the second post we looked at the effect on mood, memory, stress and confidence and in this final post we will look at poor posture’s effect on breathing, digestion and productivity.
A 2006 report by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation showed some striking cascade effects caused by altered breathing because of poor posture. Using 70 able-bodied participants, the study found that bad posture affects breathing and lung capacity by up to 30%. This was most likely because slumping compresses your lungs, making them smaller and decreasing volume of air that you are able to inhale. Slouching also makes it harder for your diaphragm (the main muscle used to breathe) to work and makes it more likely that you will upper chest breathe. Shallow breathing combined with upper chest breathing means that the sympathetic nervous system is triggered, which is our stress response system. When your lungs do not perform as well, your tissues, including your heart and brain, do not receive as much oxygenated blood. This can lead to shortness of breath, clouded thinking, and even heart and vascular disease. It is also a less efficient way of breathing so it uses up more energy making us feel tired and the muscles of the neck and shoulders become overused because they are being used for breathing as well as to hold us up. This then makes us even more prone to neck and shoulder pain.
Your stomach and intestines rely on movements known as peristaltic movements to push food through your intestines. Poor posture can compress the abdominal organs involved in digestion which then affects peristaltic function, meaning your gastrointestinal system may not function as effectively. This can lead to gas, constipation and acid reflux. A study in 2003 showed that being upright (in particular standing) was better for the transit of gas through through the intestines than lying down.
Employee engagement is a key driver in business success. According to a recent Gallup poll only 33% of US employees are actively engaged in their work. Gallup estimates this costs more than $300 billion in lost productivity alone.
Sitting upright makes you more alert, concentrated, and productive. The reason is that when you slouch, your body takes in as much as 30% less oxygen than you’d take in with good posture. This means that when you slouch, it is much harder to keep your energy up.
In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor now includes ergonomics as an important tool for reducing workplace injury and ensuring high productivity.
This is also supported by Dr. Erik Peper, San Francisco State University, who assessed how body posture affects subjective energy level as well as the ability to generate positive and negative thoughts. In one experiment, test subjects either skipped, swinging their arms in an upward motion, as they walked down a hall or slouched as they walked down the hall. Almost all of the skipping participants reported feeling more energetic, happier, and positive. Meanwhile, those who slouched reported nearly the opposite emotions; they felt sad, lonely, isolated, sleeping, and “zombie-like.”
If you have good posture you’ll not only look better, you’ll feel better too because you’re healthier from the inside out! So how do you look after your posture?
That’s why we developed PROMETHEUS!
Designed by leading Physical Therapists, PROMETHEUS is a software solution that utilises real time posture analytics via your webcam to improve your health, happiness and wellbeing – preventing pain and injury, to help optimise overall health. PROMETHEUS will also prompt you to take regular breaks from sitting or standing and alert you if you slip into poor posture habits for too long or if your blink-rate slips below optimal. PROMETHEUS works to make you healthier while you work and play!