Straighten Up!

Last night, as I was putting in my hour on the ArcTrainer, I found myself staring at the woman on the treadmill in front of me. It wasn’t because she had an amazing body, or I liked her outfit, or she was sprinting hills (in fact, she was walking hills) – but because she was slouched all over the machine.

If there is one thing that absolutely makes me crazy, it is seeing a person – man or woman, young or not so young – holding onto the handlebars for dear life, backside sticking out, chest practically touching the machine. Yes, you have your treadmill at 25% incline, or your stairs at a level 12, or your elliptical at a resistance of 15. But … you’d be a lot better off dialing it down and standing up straight!

When you’re hunched over a machine, you eliminate several factors that can increase your calorie expenditure – in fact, slouching lessens the work in your upper body and core, meaning even less calories burned. Also keep in mind that machine calorie counts don’t take your posture into consideration … and calorie counts can overestimate your burn by up to 30% to begin with (but that’s another story for another day.)

So, how can you remedy this problem? Stand up straight, and unless the machine has moving arms (many ellipticals do), let go! You’ll be forced to engage your core, which will help to strengthen the abs, while also protecting the back. If the machine is moving too fast for you to let go of the sides, slow it down – when you have total control of your posture and movement you’ll actually burn more calories at a lower level or slower pace.

Next time you step onto your cardio machine of choice, take a second to think about your posture. It’ll help you accomplish more, maybe even with (seemingly) less effort … and, let’s be honest … you’ll look better, too 😉