Turns out mothers had been right all along reprimanding us to sit straight. According to a study conducted at San Francisco State University, the posture one holds when they walk can influence, create or alter the mood of the person, explained Psych Central’s Janice Wood,
“Walking with a slouched or despondent posture can lead to feelings of depression and a decrease in energy. Inversely, walking in a more upright position was shown to improve mood and energy levels.”
Till date, it was commonly assumed it was the posture that was influenced by varying emotional, psychological and social factors, but this study indicates the reverse way is also applicable, pointed out Health Education Erik Peper, Ph.D., who headed the San Fran study,
“We tend to think the brain and body relationship goes one way. In fact, the passages go both ways.”
To judge how a posture affected mental state and mood, Peper asked 110 students to walk down the hall in a slouched position. Thereafter they were asked to repeat the exercise while walking upright. The students were then asked to rate their emotional states in either cases. As expected, the entire lot reported feeling decreased energy levels after the slouched walk versus elevated emotions and energy after the upright/skip walk.
Interestingly, apart from feeling better while walking tall, Peper also found that students who had reported more depression and lower overall energy levels in an earlier survey were affected “more negatively” by the slumped-over sad walk than those who had reported better mood and energy levels. In simpler terms, the slouch seemed to deteriorate mental state, whereas the upright posture seemed to improve it.
Peper claims the study not only proves posture has significant non-physical influence on a person; it begins to explain how physical habits can factor into a cycle of depression. More importantly, he notes that the research illustrates “in this epidemic of depression, there are simple interventions you can do to help yourself.”
Peper’s findings have been previously corroborated by a study conducted recently at the Ohio State University. The study examined the effects of posture on personal confidence levels. This study, conducted with Ohio State’s Richard Petty, along with Pablo Briñol, a former postdoctoral fellow at Ohio State now at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain, and Benjamin Wagner, a current graduate student at Ohio State, revealed that merely sitting up straighter can radically increase one’s self-confidence.
Sitting upright has always had physical benefits, but these studies indicate one can gain a boost in mental disposition as well.