The rolls that appear when you sit down are partially a result of how you’re sitting. Like most guys, you probably spend the bulk of your day staring at a computer screen—a situation that conditions your body to slouch. When your spine hunches, it compresses your midriff, accentuating any abdominal fat you might have, says Thomas Fahey, Ph.D., professor of kinesiology at California State University.
If you’re finding it distracting or unnerving, try to be conscious of your posture every time you take a load off—imagine there’s a string at the top of your head attached to the ceiling and that you’re being pulled upward. You can also work the high-cable split stability chop into your workout routine, which is the single most effective way to strengthen your core.
Another tip: If you drive a lot, adjust your rearview mirror so you have to sit straight up to see out the back. Both tactics will help train your body to maintain good posture and help reduce those unsightly rolls. If you really want to get industrious about things, substitute a Swiss ball for your office chair a few days a week. Sitting on the ball will force your core to balance your body, strengthening every muscle in your torso, says Jim Youssef, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Durango Orthopedics, in Colorado.
Maintaining good posture is critical for any guy over the age of 40, especially those who suffer from lower back pain. Once into their fifth or sixth decade, men gradually lose bone density. This loss—called osteoporosis—is most pronounced in the spine, where microscopic fractures can cause you to shrink up to two inches by the time you’re 70. (The drying of gelatinous tissue between your vertebrae can have the same effect.) As your vertebrae and discs age, their alignment changes, making your stomach appear larger, says Andrew Casden, M.D., associate director of the Spine Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center, in New York City.
You can reverse the process by engaging in bone-stressing activities, such as running and weight lifting, and popping some B12. Researchers at Tufts University, in Boston, recently found that levels of the vitamin below 6 micrograms (mcgs) facilitate bone loss. Get your 6 mcgs by taking a daily multivitamin or eating a fortified breakfast cereal.
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