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Health and Fitness News

Perfecting Posture

Five exercises to help improve your posture.

You’ve seen people with perfect posture. They appear strong, healthy, and confident—just because they’re standing up straight. Also called neutral spine, proper posture is achieved when the muscles around the spine are in balance and equally support the body. Carrying yourself with good posture provides several important health benefits, including fewer headaches; reduced back, neck, and shoulder pain; increased energy; greater lung capacity; and improved circulation.

Though good posture is something you can practice, it is much easier to maintain when you have strong and flexible back and core muscles. Just how do you build a posture-ready body? You can get started with a few strength-building exercises.

Planks

A highly effective exercise to strengthen your core is a plank. If you’re unfamiliar with the plank, there are several variations to this exercise. The one you choose to do may depend on your fitness level.

For a high plank, start in the push-up position, holding yourself up with your hands and toes. Place your hands directly below your shoulders. In this position, keep your body in a straight line, from your heels to your head. Hold for up to a minute or as long as you can. If a high plank is too challenging, lower your body and support yourself on your elbows and feet.

A side plank is another variation that works different core muscles. Support your body on your left forearm and the outer side of your left foot. Keep your body in a straight line, from your feet to your head. Hold for up to a minute. Switch sides.

Single Leg Extensions

Train your core to stabilize your pelvis with single leg extensions. Lie on your back and bend your knees. Keep your feet flat against the floor and place your hands behind your head. Then press your lower back into the floor and lift your head off the floor. Pull your left knee toward your chest and extend your right leg so it’s at a 45-degree angle above the floor. Hold for a second and then switch legs. Repeat. To increase the intensity, bring both legs toward your chest and extend them at the same time.

Bridge

A third exercise to practice for good posture is the bridge. Lying on your back on the floor, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor shoulder-width apart, close to your buttocks. Rest your hands on the floor by your sides. Now, lift your hips and lower back up off the floor to create a straight line from your knees down to your shoulders. Hold for a couple of seconds and slowly lower your hips back to the floor. Repeat.

Supermans

An exercise to strengthen your back extensor muscles for good posture is the superman. Lie facedown on the floor with your arms stretched straight out above your head. Keep your head in line with your body and look toward the floor. Now, lift both hands and both feet off the ground several inches. Hold for a couple seconds and slowly lower them back toward the floor. Repeat.

Partial Curls

Strong abdominal muscles are part of a strong core. Curls or partial curls are an effective way to strengthen your abs. To do partial curls, lie on your back on the floor. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Cross your arms and place each hand on the opposite shoulder. Raise your head and shoulders a couple inches off the floor, keeping your head and neck in line with your spine. Hold for several seconds before lowering your head back to the floor. Repeat.