Winter. It can be the most sedentary time of the year. Between the frigid temps and shorter days, who could blame you for cozying up on the couch with a good book or binge-worthy show? But the time you spend sprawled out on your couch could be harmful to your health. Sit up straight and read on, because we’re going to talk postures and posteriors. Plus, we’ll give you some tips on how you can keep moving even in the dead of winter.
Down in the Slumps? Strike a Power Pose!
Most of us are probably aware that poor posture can lead to back and neck pain. Whether it comes from texting too much or lifting heavy objects, Mom was right: You should stand up straight.
But poor posture can give you more than just a kink in the neck.
According to psychologist Richard Petty, the way you sit or stand can not only affect your body but how you think about yourself.
“It turns out that our posture can also affect how we think about ourselves. If you sit up straight, you end up convincing yourself by the posture you’re in.” Says Dr. Petty.
In other words, standing up straight can make you feel happy and confident! But if you slump you can have a lower self-esteem and just generally feel bad about yourself.
The cold, shorter days might not be the culprit for your bad mood — it might just be your posture. But there’s no need to get bent out of shape. Just straighten up and strike a confident, power pose!
Are You Working Your Butt to Death?
If you have a 40-hour-a-week office gig, you’re probably spending a lot of time on your tush. And that vague discomfort in your glutes while you fill out spreadsheets? That’s caused by sitting for too long. Sorry to break the news, but you’re actually working your butt off.
No, Really. The pain you feel in your posterior is called “dead butt” syndrome and it’s caused by long periods of sitting, which strains your hips and weakens your behind.
“The job of the gluteus medius is to stabilize your hips and pelvis. When it’s weak and can’t function properly, you may experience varying levels of hip and lower back pain when you sit and sometimes when you move.” says chiropractor Andrew Bang of the Cleveland Clinic.
Fortunately for your fanny, it’s an easy problem to solve. For every 40 minutes at your desk or in your car, get up and stretch your legs for five minutes. This will take the strain off your hips and back while giving your butt a well-deserved break.
Or, you could invest in a standing desk and take advantage of the multiple health benefits that come with it!
Hit Pause on Your Binging Habit
We’re sitting firmly in TV’s golden age. And with so many great shows available on Hulu and Netflix, anyone could spend weeks bingeing and never get bored.
But watching hours of critically acclaimed television can be detrimental to your physical and mental health. Binging can increase the risks of the aforementioned dead butt syndrome, make you more sleep deprived and can make you less social.
To combat this, set a time limit for yourself. Turn off your TV after one hour of watching and at least 20 minutes before your bedtime. This will help you fall asleep easier and give you a more restful night.
As they say, everything — even Netflix bingeing — in moderation.
Don’t Take It Sitting Down
No ifs, ands, backs or butts. Your posture plays a big role in your physical and mental health. By understanding how and why it affects your well-being, you can learn to take care of your body — and your mind too!
How does being indoors affect you physically and mentally during the winter months? Tell us below!