An old and dear friend of mine always says, “If you want to improve your Altitude, you’ve got to improve your Attitude“… meaning if you want to move up in life, you’ve got to have the right focus, ethics and demeanor.  However this morning, as I was getting ready for work, my beautiful wife and the President of iDefensiveDriving.com said, “If you want to improve your Attitude (referring to my health, happiness and longevity), you’ve got to improve your Altitude… stand up straight, pull your shoulders back, and recapture your vigor and youthful appearance.

I thought about that for a few moments, as I stood glancing in the bathroom mirror, realizing that I was standing a little slumped over these days.  I had been letting long work hours take their toll, and missing out on the benefits of physical activity, proper nutrition and a restful nights sleep.  Therefore, I decided it was time to make a change!

Although I do not purport to be a fitness or health expert, I have gained enough experience over the years to know that I need to start with the end in mind, establish a plan that allows for both short and long term successes, and the opportunity to fail-forward (turn my mistakes into stepping stones).

So I decided to start with improving my posture, by improving my core. Practicing good posture is a very important way to maintain a healthy mind and body. When you practice correct posture, your body is in alignment with itself. This can alleviate common problems such as back or neck pain, headaches, and fatigue. In fact, many qualified studies show that being in good general health and standing (or sitting) tall will also improve your self confidence and overall success. Here are a few tips from my posture improvement plan.

Sit up straight! How often did your parents tell you that? For many people, this suggestion got filed right next to “eat your peas”.  Mom was right though, at least about your posture. Today, especially when so many of us sit at a desk all day, it’s important to follow these basic guidelines both for your posture and for your health.

At Your Desk

  • If you work long hours at a desk and have the option, use a chair that’s ergonomically designed for proper support. If this is not an option, try using a small pillow for lumbar support.
  • Align your back with the back of the office chair. This will help you avoid slouching or leaning forward.
  • As with standing posture, keep your shoulders straight and squared, your head upright, and your neck, back, and heels aligned.
  • Keep both feet firmly on the ground.
  • Adjust your chair and your position so that your arms are flexed, not straight out. Aim for roughly a 75 to 90 degree angle at the elbows. If they are too straight, you’re too far back, and if they are more than 90 degrees, you’re either sitting too close, or you are slouching.

In Your Car

Start with good sitting posture. Not only is good posture while driving, recommended for good posture’s sake, it’s also important for more practical safety concerns. Your car’s seating and protective systems were designed for people sitting properly in the seat, and will improve your safety in the event of a collision.

  • Keep your back against the seat and head rest.
  • Adjust your seat to maintain a proper distance from the pedals and steering wheel. If you’re leaning forward, pointing your toes, or reaching for the wheel, you’re too far away. If you are bunched up with your knees touching the dash, or chin on top of the steering wheel, you’re too close.

Adjust the head rest. The head rest should be adjusted so that the middle of your head rests against it. Tilt the head rest as needed, to maintain a distance of no more than four inches (10cm) between the back of your head and the head rest.

So keep your head up, your shoulders back, and sit and stand tall for improved health and well being.

– RJB