PJ-BO134_FIXBUR_G_20130506164035We were all told as children to sit up straight – by our teachers, our parents, and/or anyone else who had the authority to do so. But as we grow up and begin to question the lessons we were taught as kids, we also might question whether or not we need proper posture. The question remains: Do we really need to sit up straight – and if so, why?

The Wall Street Journal recently took on the question, and came up with quite a few answers. Some may be ones you already know, but some may just surprise you:

First of all, the article addresses the question of what “sitting up straight” really means. Apparently, “[l]ittle research has been done on the best way to sit upright. One American meta study in 1999 concluded that sitting at an angle of 110 to 130 degrees was optimal for spine comfort. A Scottish study published in 2007 found that leaning back at 135 degrees is ideal to prevent back strain. While interesting, this sort of precision may be impractical for most people”.

Precision aside, though, what are the real benefits of sitting up straight? Well, for one thing, it affects our ability to breathe: “‘Relaxed, straight sitting’—with the core strong, shoulder blades active but not tight and spine erect—’expands your chest, allowing you to take in a larger breath…and you’ll have more energy and focus'”. Furthermore, maintaining proper posture strengthens your core muscles – which in turn keeps your body properly aligned throughout the course of your life, thus helping to stave off a wide range of potential health problems.

Sitting up straight also has psychological benefits: Dr. Mladen Golubic, the medical director for the Center for Lifestyle Medicine at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute, says that “‘we do know that when you slouch, you project an attitude of depression and low motivation.’ When you sit up straight, he adds, ‘psychologically, your attitude is better.'” We have mentioned this phenomenon before on our blog.

Perhaps most importantly, however, the Wall Street Journal article discusses the potentially disastrous effects of sitting for too long – including Sedentary Death Syndrom, and the fact “‘that sitting for hours can cause anything from lower back pain to high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity'”.

“The bottom line: How you sit is less important than how long you sit, Dr. Golubic says. He tries to get up from his desk often, doing ‘walking meetings’ with colleagues and taking phone calls outdoors. ‘If you cannot walk,’ he says, ‘At least stand.'”1115-back-posture_vg

And when you cannot stand? Well, you can at least improve your seated posture with a BackJoy® Posture+! Visit BackJoy.com to learn how the Posture+ works to improve your posture and overall health, and also to shop online.

By Liana Orenstein