You may be aware of the health risks of bad posture such as height loss, arthritis, disc bulging and herniations in the spine, just to name a few. So the health benefits of good posture to your body should be clear. But are you aware of the benefits to your brain from having good posture? Your body’s posture can actually change your thinking and effect your life both psychologically and socially.
One of my favorite Ted Talk speakers is social psychologist and Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, Amy Cuddy. In one of her experiments she looked at how body posture can shape who you are, how you view and feel about yourself as well as how others view you which can determine the opportunities you have in life. In this study, levels of testosterone (indicating authority and power) and cortisol (an indication of stress) were evaluated based on body posture and position. Subjects held body positions in either ‘high power’ or ‘low power’ postures. An example of a high power position would be a body held upright and aligned. An example of a low power position would be rounded shoulders with forward head and down. Subjects held these positions for a total of 2 minutes.
High power position subjects experienced an increase of 20% in their testosterone levels: directly correlating to confidence and power. Low power position subjects experienced a 10% decrease in testosterone levels. When it came to stress, cortisol levels, the subjects with high power positions had a 25% decrease in stress level, while the subjects in the lower power position had an increase of 15% in their stress level.
Neutral observers who evaluated the subjects were heavily influenced by the subject’s body posture. High power postures rated high in the areas of confidence, authenticity, passion, enthusiasm and being seen as captivating. Low power postures were rated as being nervous, uncomfortable, uncertain and even fearful.
Inside the subject’s brain, their behavior was significantly effected by their posture. In the high power position group 86% demonstrated higher risk tolerance, meaning they were willing to face challenges and gamble. Whereas, only 60% of the lower power position group was willing to accept higher risk challenges.
Remember, these subjects held these body posture positions for only 2 minutes and experienced significant changes their body’s chemical make-up and their behavior. Only 2 minutes determined how others evaluated their confidence and capabilities. So imagine if you were able to keep good posture everyday. How much change would that bring about in your life?
Having good posture is not just about remembering to stand up straight. Its about keeping strength in the key posture muscles so that you don’t have to remember; because it becomes a way of life. This goes way beyond the “core” muscles. Your posture and ‘how’ you age is determined by your muscles of extension in your glutes, back, shoulders and neck. You can begin to learn the techniques that keep your extensor muscles strong throughout your life in my “Better Back” DVD or download. In 10 minutes a day for 5 days you can learn and perform all the movement patterns that keep your body in the perfect posture so you can be in the power position all your life. Imagine what a difference that can make in your life.