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Bad posture? Read this and your back will feel better (really) Add to ...

The question: I need help with my posture. Can you suggest some easy exercises I can do?

The answer: Absolutely! First, try sitting up straight and rolling your shoulders 10 times as you imagine your head being suctioned gently backward.

Challenge yourself by holding your head in this “suctioned” back position as you finish reading my column. Believe me, this is easier said than done, since most of us hold our heads further forward than we should.

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Posture is the result of years of moving and sitting in a certain way, such as sitting for hours at a sedentary, posture-destroying job. I am lucky enough not to have to sit in front of a computer screen all day, so I know it seems easy for me to lecture about this: But to make lasting postural changes, you must do exercises to improve your posture, as well as fix your work environment.

Exercises alone can’t make up for sitting or standing in a rounded or twisted posture for eight-plus hours per day. Even small changes to your work environment can be hugely beneficial.

Try positioning your computer so that you don’t have to twist or look down to type. If you or your employer have the financial means, look into desks that move up and down. If that isn’t realistic, work at a surface that is chest height a few times a day. The goal is to alternate sitting and standing.

Most importantly, give yourself a mental and physical break by getting up regularly and walking around.

In order for you to maintain your posture when you are not consciously thinking about it, your brain has to communicate with your body and subconsciously know how your body is positioned. Do exercises that force your mind and body to communicate. For example, count to 30 while you march on the spot with your eyes closed. Aim to be in your original position when you open your eyes.

For other exercises take a look at these past columns.

What can I do to avoid hunched shoulders?

Chained to a desk all day? Here's how to ease the tension

What exercises will help improve my posture?

If you read this far with your head still held back, congratulations!

Trainer’s Tip: Put a sit-fit on your chair and sit on it for 20 minutes a day. This will force your brain and body to communicate and build better body alignment. A sit-fit is a small inflatable disc that looks like a whoopee cushion.

Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is www.kathleentrotter.com.

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail’s Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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