The cheapest, most effective way to look more youthful and benefit health and longevity is good posture. And it doesn't require pills or potions – just awareness and perseverance.
People stacked like Lego blocks – ears over shoulders and shoulder blades down, relaxed and together, torso balanced over hips and hips over feet – seem slimmer and full of vitality. But a head thrust forward to peer at computers, cellphones or tablets is a modern menace that can add as much as 50 pounds of force to neck muscles, causing neck, shoulder or back pain.
1. Buzz, buzz
You can't think about your posture every minute, but Luma Lift can. The small device fastens inside your clothing below your collarbone with a strong magnet. Activate it once you assume your best sitting or standing posture. It will count your steps, record your posture hours and even the calories you've burned and, when its app is set to coach mode, it will discreetly vibrate when you start to slouch. A two-minute time lapse is suggested, but set at 30 seconds for faster feedback. It's like having Mom poking you to sit and stand up straight. US$80, www.lumobodytech.com.
2. Stick it!
For a less high-tech reminder, have someone tape your back as you stand in a good posture position. Tape an X from shoulder to opposite hip; or run tape up the spine from lower back to nape of neck, then tape from each shoulder to mid-back. Maintain good posture, and you won't feel it until you remove it – especially if you're a man with a hairy back.
3. Picture perfect
Get your posture baseline with the free PostureZone app available through iTunes. Have someone photograph front, back and side views to see if your head tilts or if hips and torso are level. Repeat and compare the stored photos as your posture improves.
4. Under wonder
A properly fitted bra not only produces a youthful uplift, it helps reduce pressure that encourages rounded shoulders and causes neck pain and even headaches. The popular Wacoal Basic Beauty T-shirt Spacer bra has a comfortably wide band that anchors its structure so straps don't pull on the shoulders. $69, Hudson's Bay
5. Body-Mind Influence
Change your body; change your mind. Slumping can negatively affect your mood, even deepen depression. Amy Cuddy, an American social psychologist, showed in a study that assuming power poses for two minutes – hands on hips, legs apart or arms high in a victory stance – boosts assertiveness and feelings of power. But simply maintaining good posture amplifies self-confidence – you may not need Cuddy's gestures!
A version of this article appeared in our May 2016 issue with the headline, "Posture, Please!", p. 22.
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