Over time, chronic hunching or slouching can lead to a ton of problems over and above tight muscles and a rounded back.
Chronic poor posture – which many of us are dealing with thanks to desk jobs and driving – can lead to structural changes in your spine, which cause abnormal wear and tear on the joint surfaces, which can lead to arthritis or degenerative disc disease.
If that slippery slope of despair isn’t enough to scare you, poor posture can also cause blood vessel constriction, digestive issues, headaches, and even depression.
Reversing poor posture starts with awareness, and correcting alignment when you notice slouching or hunching. Do this by pulling the shoulders down and back, followed by pulling the head back so it is in-line with the shoulders. We call this the chin tuck and it is the first of three easy, no-equipment exercises to improve your posture.
3 EASY EXERCISES FOR BETTER POSTURE:
1. Chin tuck. Sitting or standing, elongate your spine by imagining you are lifting the top of your skull to the sky. Tuck your chin back without tilting the head, until your head is in line with your shoulders. Tip: this exercise can be especially useful in the car while driving, use the headrest as a guide for optimal positioning.
2. The 'I-T-W'. Lying on your stomach, bring your arms straight out to an overhead position (or an “I” position) and lift them off the floor. From there float the arms straight out to the side (or a “T” position), followed by shifting the elbows back creating a “W” position with the arms. Return to the original “I” position and repeat. Tip: do this with palms facing the floor or with thumbs pointing up to the ceiling, make sure you are lifting the arms with the upper back and NOT the lower back.
3. Wall Slides. Stand tall with your upper back, glutes, and head contacting the wall. Bring your arms up on the wall starting in a “W” position. Slowly lift the arms up to an “I” position overhead, trying to keep elbows and wrists contacting the wall. Return to starting position and repeat. Tip: If this is too challenging, bring arms out to a “Y” position instead of an “I”.
The goal of any postural exercise is to strengthen your back while lengthening your chest. Therefore, to get the most bang for your buck, do these exercises in combination with stretches for the chest.
Looking for a personalized exercise program? Contact us today for a free assessment, anywhere in Toronto!
If you search Instagram (or just about anywhere else) for "fitness", you'll be bombarded with chiseled bodies, videos of people lifting huge heavy weights, and (far too many) toned-ab selfies.
It suggests that fitness is an extreme, all-or-nothing thing. Which it isn't. And that's why you won't find any greasy posed muscles in our feed. We believe that success looks different for each of us, and is about more than what you see on the outside.
One of our favourite 'traditions' at Nielsen Fitness is to capture - and celebrate - our clients' goals as they achieve them. Here are some recent ones that our clients gave us their blessing to share with you.
We think they're a great reminder that fitness is for everyone and success can take so many different forms.
Want to join these healthy folks? Click here to learn more about our process, and here to read about how we're different. When you're ready, give us a shout and we'll come to you for a free, no-obligation consultation and mini workout.
What's YOUR motivation for working out? Whether we like to admit it or not, for most of us, it's to look good.
This is just fine, but I always advise new and potential clients to think more broadly and deeply than that and see their exercise efforts as an investment in long-term health, and the benefits you can't see on the surface.
In my experience, it tends to be a more powerful, long-term motivator - and for good reason. Almost immediately, your health will begin to improve as a result of exercise - even if the scale or measuring tape are taking their time. Some key benefits:
So, as much as you may want to fit into that dress or bulk up your muscles for the beach, remember that each work out is doing wonderful things for your body that just might not be quite as visible. Plug away at it and, before long, you'll start to be able to see the benefits on the outside too.
As we always say, personal training isn't just for fitness models and bodybuilders. The vast majority of our clients are normal people looking to live their best and healthiest life. Recently, we've started capturing and sharing our clients' little (and some not-so-little) victories. We find it hugely motivating to track and celebrate these changes - and we hope you do too :)
Proper form is so important when exercising - not only to ensure you're maximizing the benefit of your workout but also to prevent injury.
In this short (2.5 minute) video, Nielsen Fitness owner Poul Nielsen outlines three of the most common workout mistakes, why they're harmful, and how to avoid them.
Not only is core strength crucial to trunk movements, but the force it generates also ripples upward and downward to adjoining links within the chain of your limbs, so to speak.
This is how weak or inflexible core muscles can impair arm and leg function, putting our joints in susceptible positions or draining power from athletic movements. Mundane daily activities and advanced athletic activities both rely on your core – a fact that most individuals might not appreciate until it’s too late and an injury has occurred.
Not too long ago, a group of researchers in Brazil discovered a simple fitness test that may help predict your longevity by measuring how easily you can sit and rise from the floor.
Other related tests have looked at how many steps it takes, and how long it takes to stand up from lying (supine) of the floor.
Click here for an interesting article that summarizes the link between mobility and longevity.
The bottom line, though, is this: a person who isn’t fit enough to get up from the floor quickly is likely to die sooner than someone who can. This is because as we age our bones lose their density, our muscles shrink and our tendons lose their elasticity – unless we actively work to remain strong and vital.
So what can you do about it?
Poul Nielsen is the owner and operator of Nielsen Fitness, Toronto's leading team of in-home personal trainers. He has 18 years' experience in the fitness industry and has taught courses in Fitness and Lifestyle Management at George Brown College.
In addition to exercise (obviously), he loves spending time with his family, playing the guitar, strong coffee - and dark chocolate!