Sit up straight and start walking — it helps health 

In the 1990s, Kurt Vonnegut told a roomful of graduate students: “If I could offer you one tip for the future, sitting up straight would be it.” He wasn’t posturing. The way you stand predicts your future health.

Researchers in Japan measured the angle between the base of the neck and the middle of the back of independent-living 65-year-olds. How slouched a person’s shoulders were predicted if he or she was still going to be self-sufficient five years later. Those who slouched the most were about three and a half times more likely to need assistance for everyday chores than those who stood the straightest.

But young or old, posture matters for everyone: Slouching indicates less than youthful muscle tone from too-little physical activity — a known K.O. for long-term health. It also compresses your core and crowds the organs (liver, stomach, pancreas, etc.) so blood may not flow through them as it should, interfering with optimal functioning. And hunching is also associated with development of TMJ, rotator cuff injury and chronic back pain.

To stand taller, follow these guides:

  1. When walking (aim for 10,000 steps a day) or sitting (get up and move around every hour) keep your head level and pretend a string is pulling your head skyward all the time; don’t jut out your chin.
  2. Keep shoulderblades back and down.
  3. Tuck in your stomach. (Practicing yoga postures can help.)

Now you’ll be in a good position to get the most out of life!

BREAKFAST REWARDS PROGRAM

The Breakfast Rewards Program is not Drew Carey’s new morning show. It’s what you’ll get from eating a good breakfast every day: a healthier weight, more get-up-and-go and maybe more fun in the sack!

Recent research shows that a morning meal with plenty of protein (35 grams; standard fare is around 13 grams) makes it easier to control your appetite and reduce your urge to snack on sugary or fatty foods later in the day. The reason? If you don’t eat when you wake up — or if you load up on sugary cereals and muffins instead of protein — your appetite-control hormones, ghrelin and leptin, can’t establish their proper counter-regulatory rhythm:

Now I’m hungry; Aahh! Now I’m full. And you end up starving, bingeing and overeating.

But there’s one problem with this new research: It was funded by the Beef Board and the Egg Nutrition Center. So, while the researchers’ conclusions were solid (add protein to your morning meal for optimal appetite control), what they didn’t say, and what we’ll shout from the rooftops, is “You don’t need — and shouldn’t eat — meat or whole eggs to get your protein fix!”

A 3-ounce serving of lox, salmon, trout, tuna or skinless chicken as a side with a chia muffin (recipes at droz.com), or oatmeal with toasted walnuts, sliced fruit and nonfat yogurt is a perfect start to your day. If you are working out (you do 10,000 steps a day, right?) you’ll have plenty of energy and build muscle. An added bonus: You’ll sleep better, too!

Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Michael Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.sharecare.com.

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