Most of us can still hear our mothers telling us to sit up straight, even if it has been decades since we were children. As frustrating as the order may have been at the time, a new study provides good reason for heeding the advice: It may completely change your mood — and in a number of ways.
Researchers founf that an upright posture can elevate mood, lessen fatigue and reduce self-focus in people with mild-to-moderate depression.
Prior Research Shows Good Posture’s Multiple Benefits
Earlier studies show that stooped posture is associated with depression, the scientists noted. Research also indicates an upright posture boosts self-esteem and mood in people without depression.
“These studies suggest that, compared to sitting in a slumped position, sitting upright can make you feel more proud after a success, increase your persistence at an unsolvable task, and make you feel more confident in your thoughts,” said Elizabeth Broadbent, one of the study’s authors. “Research also suggests that sitting upright can make you feel more alert and enthusiastic, feel less fearful, and have higher self-esteem after a stressful task.”
Good Posture Increased Enthusiasm and Reduced Fatigue
The new study at the University of Auckland involved 61 people with mild-to-moderate symptoms of depression. Half of them were instructed in how to sit up straight, and rigid sports tape was applied to their backs in a manner proven to improve posture. The other half didn’t receive the instructions, and sports tape was applied to their backs in random places that hadn’t been shown to promote an upright bearing.
At the study’s onset, all the participants tended to display stooped shoulders. This enabled the researchers to compare the effects between an upright and slouched posture.
After the sports tape was applied, the individuals were required to fill out a survey designed to assess their mood. The recorded emotions showed that those in the upright-posture group were more excited and enthusiastic, as well as stronger and less fatigued than those in the poor-posture group.
Good Posture Reduces Self-Focus
In the next phase of the study, the effects of good posture in stressful situations were investigated. The participants were required to give a speech in front of a panel of examiners after only three minutes of preparation. Following the speech, they were asked to perform a complex mental arithmetic task.
No difference in mood between the two groups was noted. The researchers thought this might have been due to that fact that the experiment was very stressful for all the individuals.
However, despite the lack of effect on mood, other differences were observed. The upright-posture group uttered more words and used the word “I” less often than the regular-posture group. These findings are consistent with earlier studies that show depressed people use fewer words and pause in speech more often than those without depression. Prior research also reveals depressed people use the word “I” more frequently, which may indicate a greater self-focus.
How does upright posture produce the beneficial effects? The answer isn’t known, but the researchers speculated that sitting up straight causes physiological changes such as enhanced brain activity. In addition, they thought it possible that good posture could help in an indirect way by causing people to perceive their mood differently.
“Changing posture is a simple, highly acceptable and low-risk intervention that could be applied either by itself or alongside other treatments,” concluded the researchers, although they said further studies are needed to verify their findings. The study was published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.
Whether or not you are depressed, if you want to immediately feel more alert, positive and energized; sit up straight. Sometimes the simplest measures can produce very significant results.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.