Americans work more than any other country in the industrialized world, which means they spend more time sitting and more time in a sedentary, often non-ergonomic position. Juliet Schor, who penned The Overworked American in 1992, concluded that Americans worked an average of nearly one month more per year in 1990 than thirty years prior.
What people may not know is that bad posture for an extended period of time can affect mood, health and ultimately, productivity in the workplace.
Data collected by Lumo Lift Posture Coach, revealed that only 36% of Americans’ workdays are spent sitting in good posture. “Workers are spending as much as 38 minutes per hour slouching,” says Lumo Bodytech CEO Monisha Perkash — and women’s postures are 20% worse than men.
Can good posture lead to more happiness, more confidence and better leadership? Yes, it can.
GOOD POSTURE = PRODUCTIVITY
According to the Cleveland Clinic, back pain associated with poor posture is the second leading cause of visits to the doctor’s office — second only to the common cold — which ends up costing employers over $7bn annually, and leads in the cause of disability for workers under 45.
How does that affect productivity? It keeps workers from being at the office due to pain or doctor visits, and when employees are in the office, their energy levels are generally lowered due to headaches, increased stress and lowered concentration. Perkash suggests that sitting in incorrect positions can compress vital organs which prevents them from optimal functioning. Good posture allows these organs to expand, breathe and work the way they’re intended to.
GOOD POSTURE = CONFIDENCE
The “powerful pose” (shoulders back, back upright) releases certain chemicals in the body related to confidence. When workers open their chests by using the powerful pose, a hormone associated with increased confidence, testosterone, is released. Cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, is decreased.
An Ohio State University study co-author, professor of psychology Richard Petty said, “Most of us were taught that sitting up straight gives a good impression to other people. But 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.”
GOOD POSTURE = BETTER LEADERSHIP
In a 2012 TED Talk on posture, social psychologist Amy Cuddy said, “In the animal kingdom, power and dominance is about expanding; making yourself look bigger,” she says.
Similarly, when we slouch our bodies, we’re in essence making ourselves subservient which leads to less confidence. Alternately, proper posture exudes dominance and confidence. This confidences leads to better morale and a better attitude, which goes hand-in-hand with better communication with others. If we exude positivity and confidence, it makes us better leaders and better communicators.
If Americans continue to work longer and take less vacations, one way to combat the physical (and psychological) difficulties of those demands, is for employers to insist on good posture techniques for their employees. Better posture means better health and a happier employee.
Here some posture exercises that can help.