Feeling depressed? Stand up straight, just like your mother told you. It may sound too easy, but new research shows that poor posture can increase depression, whereas healthy posture can lead to an improved mood.
According to TIME Health, Researchers in a New Zealand demonstrated the effect of slumped or straightened posture on the hearts and minds of the subjects in a study (1). Their blood pressure and heart rates were measured as they completed a series of tasks designed to assess their mood, self-esteem and stress levels.
‘The upright participants reported feeling more enthusiastic, excited, and strong, while the slumped participants reported feeling more fearful, hostile, nervous, quiet, still, passive, dull, sleepy, and sluggish,” New Zealand study authors write. Good posture was also associated with higher self-esteem, less social fear and fewer negative emotions. Additionally, they also had stronger pulse responses than their slumped colleagues.
Depression is commonly associated with having less energy. Less energy can lead to more depressive thinking. It can be a terrible cycle. In another study, researchers looked at how body posture affects energy levels (2). The subjects were then divided into two groups and asked to perform one of two movement patterns for about three minutes (walking in a slouched posture or skipping). After the exercise, the subjects rated their personal energy level and described their subjective experience. Succeeding, they then exchanged to the other movement pattern and again rated their new experience. From the results of this study, the researchers concluded that energy level could increase or decrease depending on posture. The results indicate that the mind-body relationship goes both ways: the mind influences the body and the body influences the mind.
So the next time that you feel the ‘blue’ coming on, stop and assess your body. Then actively and consciously engage (ACE) your posture in an active proper position. Try this, when seated, keep your knees always below your hips, and when standing, keep your knees slightly flexed. You’ll be surprised how this changes your mood…
– Lawrence Woods
2. Peper E, Lin IM. Increase or decrease depression: How body postures influence your energy level. Biofeedback. 2012; 40(3): 125-130.