We all know that a sedentary lifestyle yields medical challenges like weight gain, heart disease and kidney failure. Did you know, though, how you sit can also jeopardize work performance? Poor posture affects productivity, but by learning how to sit properly, you can boost brain function and accomplish more during the day.
Body Language Affects Mood
The way you sit makes you happy, sad or depressed. It sounds strange, but researchers at Ohio State University found that nodding or shaking your head affects your attitude, even if it’s unintentional.
Erik Peper, a Dutch behavioral scientist also researched this topic. He found two key facts about posture that will help you on the job, today:
1. Sitting straight increases the likelihood that you’ll think positively. The next time you struggle with a negative attitude or workplace drama, sit straight. Your mood and mindset will change, allowing you to focus on work and get more done.
2. Skipping during regular breaks increases energy levels, but walking while slouching or slumping drains your energy. During your next break, stand up straight and skip down the hall to the copy room, bathroom or lunchroom. Your co-workers might look at you funny, but you’ll face all the projects on your desk with renewed energy.
Posture Affects Hormones
Difficult tasks, hostile clients or boring projects take the fun out of work. However, if any of these productivity killers affects you, use posture to your advantage. Simply stand up and extend your arms and legs. Stretching as tall and wide as possible expresses your power and tells your brain that you’re ready to tackle anything.
Researchers at Columbia University and Harvard University concur that posture affects hormones. People who stand in powerful, expansive poses experience decreased cortisol and increased testosterone levels. This hormone combination increases leadership ability and disease resistance. A powerful pose can also help you take risks and land new clients, ask for a raise, or approach a problem resourcefully.
What does this all mean? When you need to do something you’d rather not do, like start a huge project, call a challenging client, or write a cumbersome report, stand tall or sit straight instead of hunching. Your expansive posture will assist you in doing the tasks that stand between you and success.
Sit the Right Way
Also, be sure to sit in a way that maximizes spine comfort in order to be productive. For optimal output, research suggests setting your chair to recline at a 110 to 130 degree angle from your desk. In addition to productivity, sitting at this angle reduces back strain. Ideally, you’re not sitting straight and are also not slumping.
Maintaining a leaned back position at a desk is challenging, though. It’s difficult to type, see the computer or talk to customers when you’re leaning back. You could end up straining your upper back and shoulders as you work from this position, too, which outweighs the productivity benefits.
That’s why some posture experts challenge employees to maintain a neutral pelvic position. While sitting straight in your chair, the spine is aligned and you experience fewer back and muscle aches. That means your mind will be focused on work instead of pain.
To be productive, get moving. Regular movement may provide the same benefits as sitting at a backward angle. To stay moving when your job requires regular sitting, incorporate bursts of physical activity into your daily routine.
At least twice every hour, stand and walk. Move around your office, walk to the break room to refill your water bottle or walk down the hall and back. The break resets your posture and prevents you from sitting in one spot too long.
Ready to be more productive at work? Keep your posture in check and enjoy the many benefits.
About the Author
Joel Vento manages sales and marketing at Concept Seating, a heavy-duty ergonomic chair manufacturer. Concept Seating’s chairs are designed for high-stress work environments in a variety of industries. A Concept Seating employee since 1992, Joel has worked in a variety of departments at the company.