Posture and Health

Peper, E., Harvey, R., & Hamiel, D. (2019-2020). Reduce stress, anxiety and negative thoughts with somatics. Somatics, 18(3), 16-19.

The study investigates how a simply and quick posture comparison techniques  can shift awareness, elevate mood, and support cognitive function. The report examines the impact of a short somatic involvement technique that involved changing one’s body posture and breathing to reduce the effect of self-evoked memory of stress.

Group observations of 90 men and 55 women, mean age 22.5 years, suggest that people were able to reframe stressful memories much more easily when in an upright posture compared to a slouched posture. They reported a significant reduction in negative thoughts as determined by a single factor ANOVA (F(1,285) = 42.92, p = .001) and anxiety and tension as determined by a single factor ANOVA (F(1,287) = 62.38, p = .001). We suggest that therapists and clients get up out of their chairs and incorporate body movements when either the therapist or the client feels stuck in order to reduce rigidity and increase openness of thoughts and facilitated which may increase educational and therapeutic goals with sustained benefits outside of the classroom or clinic. 

Peper, E., Harvey, R., Mason, L., & Lin, I-M. (2018). Do better in math: How your body posture may change stereotype threat response. NeuroRegulation, 5(2), 67-740 Do better in math Published NeuroRegulationpdf

This study investigates posture on mental math performance. The math test was rated significantly more difficult while sitting slouched than while sitting erect. Specifically, Participants with the highest test anxiety, math difficulty and blanking out scores (TAMDBOS) rated the math task significantly more difficult in the slouched position as compared to the erect position. Discussed are processes such as stereotypic threat associated with a “defense reaction” by which posture can affect mental math and inhibit abstract thinking. Moreover, clinicians who work with students who have learning difficulty may improve outcome if they include posture changes.

Peper, E. & Harvey, R. (2018). Digital addiction: increased loneliness, depression, and anxiety. NeuroRegulation. 5(1),3–8doi:10.15540/nr.5.1.3 

Digital addiction is defined by the American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM) as well as the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as “… a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry.  Symptoms of digital addiction such as increased loneliness (also called “phoneliness”), anxiety, and depression were observed in a sample of university undergraduates who completed a survey about smartphone use during and outside of class. Other observations included observations of “iNeck” (poor) posture as well as how multitasking/semitasking was prevalent in the sample. Implications of continued digital addition are discussed.

The Effects of Upright and Slumped Postures on the Recall of Positive and Negative Thoughts

This study assessed whether it was easier to generate positive and negative thoughts in either an upright or slumped position. Surface electromyography (sEMG) of zygomaticus major, heart rate, and respiratory rate were assessed across four 1-min counterbalanced conditions of either upright or slumped posture and either positive or negative thought generation. At the end of the study, participants rated which thought was easiest to generate in the two postures. Significantly more participants (92%), indicated it was easiest to generate positive thoughts in the upright position. This study supports the finding that positive thoughts are more easily recalled in the upright posture.

Peper, E., Booiman, A., Lin, I.M., & Harvey, R. (2016).  Increase strength and mood with posture. Biofeedback, 44(2), 66-72.

Body postures can project nonverbally how a human being feels. Postural changes affect thoughts, emotions, and energy levels, and conversely, energy levels, emotions, and thoughts affect posture. The purpose of this study was to explore how changes in erect or standing body posture affect positive energy levels, emotions, and thoughts. When measured in this study, all but one (98%) of the subjects perceived greater arm strength as they resisted the downward pressure when they stood in an erect posture compared with when they stood in a collapsed/slouched posture. Similarly, testers observed that the subject were much stronger in their ability to resist the downward pressure in the erect versus slouched position. This study points out that psychology and bioneurofeedback training needs to understand how important body posture, movement, and somatic feedback are as part of the therapeutic and teaching process, because changing the posture affects strength and recall of memories, which are important parts of the mind-body equation that underlies health and illness.

Peper, E., Booiman, A., Lin, I.M., & Harvey, R. (2016).  Increase strength and mood with posture. Beweegreden,12(2), 14-17.

Body posture can project non-verbally how we feel (Coulson, 2004; Pitterman & Nowicki, 2004). For example, when standing erect we occupy more space and tend to project power and authority to others and to ourselves (Huang, Galinsky, Gruenfeld, & Guillory, 2010).  More and more in contemporary life we sit collapsed for many hours with our spine in flexion. The authors conclude that an essential part of the holistic approach to health and wellness involves incorporating awareness of body posture, movement and providing some form of somatic feedback as part of the therapeutic and patient education process. Without teaching that a collapsed body posture may impact the healing process, only one half of the mind-body equation that underlies health and illness will be impacted.

Peper, E., Lin, I-M., Harvey, R., & Perez, J. (2017). How posture affects memory recall and mood.  Biofeedback.45 (2), 36-41.

Body posture reflects emotional states, and this study investigates the effect of posture sitting in a slouched or upright position on recall of either negative (hopeless, helpless, powerless, or defeated) memories or positive (empowered or optimistic) memories. In this study, 86% of the students reported that it was easier to recall/access negative memories in the collapsed position than in the erect position, and 87% of the students reported that it was easier to recall/access positive images in the erect position than in the collapsed position. Participants who reported being most depressed over the previous two years reported significantly more recall of negative memories in both the slouched position and erect position. We recommend that therapists teach clients posture awareness and to sit more upright in the office and at home as a strategy to increase positive affect and decrease depression.

Peper, E., Lin, I-M, & Harvey, R. (2017). Posture and mood: Implications and applications to therapy. Biofeedback.35(2), 42-48.

Slouched posture is very common and tends to increase access to helpless, hopeless, powerless, and depressive thoughts as well as increased head, neck, and shoulder pain. Described are six educational and clinical strategies that therapists can incorporate in their practice to encourage an upright/erect posture. These include practices to experience the negative effects of a collapsed posture as compared to an erect posture, watching YouTube video to enhance motivation, electromyography to demonstrate the effect of posture on muscle activity, ergonomic suggestions to optimize posture, the use of a wearable posture biofeedback device, and strategies to keep looking upward. When clients implement these changes, they report a more positive outlook and reduced neck and shoulder discomfort.

Tsai, H. Y., Peper, E., & Lin, I. M.* (2016). EEG patterns under positive/negative body postures and emotion recall tasks. NeuroRegulation, 3(1), 23-27.

This article demonstrated that if you are sitting collapsed, it takes almost twice as long and the brain has to work much significantly harder to access positive memories than when you sit erect. Sitting collapsed facilitates the presence of negative, hopeless, defeating thoughts and memories. While sitting erect and looking upward increases the access to positive thoughts and memories can possibly could decrease depressive thoughts and feelings. Thus clinicians and clients need to be aware of posture and encourage upright posture to promote health.