The Importance of Posture for Seniors
Thinking about good posture often conjures up images of young charm school children walking around with books on their heads. But proper posture isn’t just about etiquette. In fact, maintaining proper posture can actually help keep us healthy and strong.
Why Posture Changes as We Age
As we age, our bodies begin to “shrink.” That’s because as early as age 50, our vertebrae and discs begin to breakdown and thin. At the same time, the cartilage and connective tissues in the spine also start to lose their thickness and elasticity. As a result, seniors begin to look as though they are getting shorter and may find it difficult to stand up straight.
Benefits of Good Posture
Maintaining good posture plays a key role in keeping both your back and spine healthy and strong. This in turn can help you:
- Better maintain your balance. Good balance also helps reduce the risk of potentially debilitating falls.
- Reduce the chance of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Poor posture causes your back and ligaments to work hard to maintain balance. Over time, the muscles begin to pull, causing degeneration in the spin.
- Improve digestion and blood flow. Good posture prevents you from compressing your internal organs.
- Decrease feelings of depression. Proper posture improves circulation, which in turn helps oxygenate your body, enhancing your mood. In fact, studies show that seniors who sit and stand upright are more confident and have higher energy levels.
- Increase cognitive function. A properly aligned spine can boost communication between neurotransmitters in the brain. In fact, research shows a correlation between memory recall and good posture.
- Reduce risk of heart attack or stroke. Proper posture allows your blood to flow properly, reducing the risk of hypertension.
How to Improve Your Posture
The good news is that proper posture can be learned at any age. If you already notice you’ve begun to slouch, here are some things you can do to help strengthen your spine:
- Strengthen your core. Exercises that strengthen your core, improve flexibility and improve your overall athleticism can also help build better posture. This would include exercises like yoga, Pilates and even tai chi.
- Focus on building muscle. Strength-based exercises which target the back extensors, neck flexors, side muscles and pelvic muscles are also key in strengthening the back and improving your posture.
- Take a walk. Weight bearing exercises like walking or climbing stars can also help you maintain strength and reduce the degeneration of the vertebrae.
- Keep moving. Avoid being sedentary for long periods of time. Instead, make it a point to get up and move around every hour. This will help strengthen the muscles so you can stay limber.
Helping Seniors Stay Active at Franciscan Ministries
At Franciscan Ministries we offer a range of life enrichment programs designed to help seniors maintain social, physical, intellectual and spiritual wellness. Seniors can get the guidance they need to remain strong and healthy no matter what their age. This, combined with our range of senior living options ensure every senior can stay active and worry-free. Contact us today to learn more about our living options and services.