How to look and feel better in seconds

It's a great time to be alive, isn't it? Science and technology have literally put the world at our fingertips.

In addition to the unlimited access we all have to information and communication, there are computer games, video games, and round-the-clock TV shows. Unfortunately, the "pros" of most things arrive hand-in-hand with the "cons." Spending long hours glued to a monitor is literally a pain in the neck - and back, and shoulders.

Laptop users are particularly guilty, since the screen is close to your face and well below eye level. Every inch your head projects forward puts an added 10 pounds of pressure on your neck, triggering headaches and lower-back pain.

Why is posture so important? Bad posture can throw your whole system out of whack, stressing and straining your muscles and joints, compressing blood vessels, and draining your energy. If that's not enough to motivate you to straighten up, consider this: Standing tall helps you stay young by preserving your range of motion and staving off age-related skeletal changes that would make you inches shorter.

The physical benefits are many, but there are other side benefits to good posture. When you stand properly, the body looks aligned, looks slimmer, and generally looks better. Good posture can also help you feel more confident - because you look and feel better, your confidence increases.

Follow these simple steps to quickly improve your posture:

Bring your feet parallel, not turned out, and about hip width apart. Bringing your feet parallel engages the muscles in the front of your thighs and keeps your hips, knees and ankles in proper alignment.

Reach up through the top of your head, feeling your spine lengthen, getting tall.

Bring your pelvis to a neutral position. To find this neutral position, place your hands around your hips, then tuck your tailbone slightly until your pelvis is directly over your thighs, so there is no bend in your hip joints, and there's less sway in your low back. As you tuck your tailbone, you should feel your abdominal muscles engage a bit.

Draw your shoulders back and relax them down, bringing your hands in line with the seams of your pants.

Level your chin, keeping your head directly over the spot between your shoulders, not forward or back.

Tips for good posture:

-Pad your chair - Consider adding lumbar support pad to your office chair.

-Push butt towards back of chair - When sitting shift your bum towards the back of the chair. This helps to prevent slouching.

-Sit on tip of chair - When you are sitting on the tip of your chair, you are further from the back of the chair so you are less likely to lean against the back support and slouch.

-Breaks & use of timer - if you are sitting down most of the day, make a point to get up for breaks often.

-Exercise ball - Try replacing your chair with an exercise ball. Lean, mean and cost-effective. The exercise ball makes a nice tool for stretching out your back as well.

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