Stand up straight if you want to stay young

It might be time to listen to our mothers advice about posture as slouching may cause aging and contribute to immobility

We’re all guilty of slouching over at desks, but leading experts claim that bad posture could cause us to age faster and contribute to pain and immobility.

According to research, from the age of 25 we all suffer from sarcopenia – the disintegration of muscle mass. On average we lose one fifth of a pound of muscle each year.

The main problem is a weakening of abdominal muscles caused by years of sitting in a hunched position, which places uneven pressure on the discs in the lower back, says Carolyn Hewison, physiotherapy manager for the Nuffield group of hospitals.

‘If you look around, you see many people over 50, particularly women, who are starting to develop this stance,’ she says. ‘By middle age we have often developed such poor postural habits that our body and brain have simply forgotten where things should be.’

Ms Hewison suggests standing up straightseveral times a day with your back to a wall, heels against the skirting board and your shoulders and head touching the wall to encourage better posture.

‘Try to maintain the position as you walk away,’ she says. ‘The more often you do this, the more accustomed your abdominal and back muscles become at providing the necessary support.’

There is no means of preventing sarcopenia completely, but the latest research suggests the best preventativemeasure you can take is regular weight training to keep up musclestrength.

‘Muscle function can improve with resistence training, even after the onset of sarcopenia,’ says Robert Wolfe, professor of geriatrics at the University of Arkansas. ‘It’s far more effective to begin it before the process gains momentum and to start at the age of 40. It’s never too late.’

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