Look Thinner in an Instant
Your guide to better posture
What if someone told you there was a way to add height to your frame, trim
some flab from around your middle, and look more vibrant -- instantly, and
without spending a cent? You'd sign up, right away, of course.
The truth is, you can get all these benefits from following a simple bit of
advice your mother gave you long ago: Stand up straight.
In the rush to become leaner, stronger, healthier versions of our former
selves, many of us neglect our posture. Yet fitness experts who spoke to WebMD
say posture is an essential part of the way we look and feel.
Why Posture Matters
The No. 1 reason to stand tall? It looks better.
"When we're slumped over, our folds of excess flab are bunched
together," says Lynn Millar, PhD, PT, a professor of physical therapy at
Andrews University and a fellow at the American College of Sports Medicine.
The opposite is true, too.
"Good posture makes you look younger, thinner, and taller," says
Rebecca Gorrell, a movement therapist at the famed Canyon Ranch Spa. "Other
people will see you as more energetic and relaxed."
But that's not all. Good posture, as it turns out, is good for you.
"Forget what it looks like; it's a matter of functioning," says Joan
Breibart, president of New York's PhysicalMind Institute and a pioneer of the
U.S. Pilates movement.
Most people hunch over when they stand, or sit with one leg crossed over the
other, notes Breibart. "This creates compression, by stretching certain
ligaments too much and others not enough, throwing the body out of
balance," she explains.
When we improve our posture and relieve this compression, bodily benefits
naturally follow, according to Breibart: "The internal organs function
properly, respiration deepens, the joints are lubricated, blood flows
A balanced body also helps keep joint pain at bay. "Most clinicians
agree that people with good posture tend to have fewer muscle imbalances and in
turn, less joint pain," Millar says.
For people who suffer from certain health conditions, posture takes on
Consider stroke victims. They are often left with a severe imbalance in
their muscles, resulting in poor posture. "If we can get them into better
posture, we open their lungs up and get them breathing better so they fatigue
less easily," Millar says.
Good posture may also make for easier breathing for people with asthma.
"We can't prevent asthma," Millar tells WebMD. "But data show
that if we can improve posture, we use our diaphragm more when we breathe,
which aids in respiration and can decrease the severity of an asthmatic
Good posture can also help those with scoliosis, or curvature of the spine.
"You can't change your skeleton, but you can minimize the effects of
scoliosis and remove the discomfort it causes," Breibart tells WebMD. The
same holds true for osteoporosis, she explains.