Want to look 5 pounds thinner without breaking a sweat or changing your diet? Just stand taller. “Slumping can make your midsection look 2 to 3 inches wider,” says Janice Novak, author of Posture, Get It Straight and director of ImproveYourPosture.com. Not to mention that poor posture can also cause your back and neck to ache. These four simple moves can take you from slumped to svelte in minutes.
Posture perfector No. 1
Goal: Stop the slouch
Whether sitting or standing, imagine you have a string at the front of your breastbone attached to the ceiling and picture it moving the bottom of your ribcage away from the top of your hip bones. Next, pull your shoulder blades back toward your spine and then press them down slightly toward your waistline. Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold 10 seconds; relax. Repeat frequently throughout the day.
Posture perfector No. 2
Goal: Prevent slumping and correct rounded shoulders
Clasp your hands behind your head and press your shoulders down and away from your ears. Gently press the back of your head into your hands; pull your chin in slightly so it’s not sticking out. Feel the muscles down the length of your spine contract. Hold 10 seconds. Then press your elbows back 10 times. Relax by clasping your hands in front of you and stretching your arms away as if trying to separate your shoulder blades. Hold for a few seconds before releasing.
Posture perfector No. 3
Goal: Flatten your belly and support your lower back
From a seated or standing position, inhale and breathe into the bottom of your lungs, feeling your ribcage expand. Exhale through your mouth like you’re pushing air through a straw. As you exhale, pretend you’re squeezing into a pair of tight jeans and pull your belly toward your spine. Hold this contraction for a slow count of 10, making sure you don’t hold your breath. Release and repeat.
Posture perfector No. 4
Goal: Strengthen the muscles in your back, neck, and shoulders
Lie on your back, knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart and flat on floor. Place your arms by your sides at 45-degree angles to your torso, palms up. Inhale. As you exhale, pull your belly button toward your spine and gently press your lower back into the floor. Then press your mid-back, upper back, and the backs of your shoulders into the floor. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat three times.