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Sit up straight, start walking

May. 27, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

In the 1990s, Kurt Vonnegut told a roomful of graduate students: "If I could offer you one tip for the future, sitting up straight would be it." He wasn't posturing. The way you stand predicts your future health.

Researchers in Japan measured the angle between the base of the neck and the middle of the back of independent-living 65-year-olds. How slouched a person's shoulders were predicted if he or she was still going to be self-sufficient five years later. Those who slouched the most were about three and a half times more likely to need assistance for everyday chores than those who stood the straightest.

But young or old, posture matters for everyone: Slouching indicates less than youthful muscle tone from too-little physical activity -- a known K.O. for long-term health. It also compresses your core and crowds the organs (liver, stomach, pancreas, etc.) so blood may not flow through them as it should, interfering with optimal functioning. And hunching is also associated with development of TMJ, rotator cuff injury and chronic back pain.

To stand taller, follow these guides:

1. When walking (aim for 10,000 steps a day) or sitting (get up and move around every hour) keep your head level and pretend a string is pulling your head skyward all the time; don't jut out your chin.

2. Keep shoulderblades back and down.

3. Tuck in your stomach. (Practicing yoga postures can help.)

Now you'll be in a good position to get the most out of life!

To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.

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