Poor Posture Linked to Depression

Being slouchy just might make you grouchy.

Feeling depressed? Stand up straight, just like your grandma told you. It may sound too good—and too simple—to be true, but new research shows that poor posture can increase depression, whereas healthy posture can lead to an improved mood.

In order to study how body posture affects energy levels, researchers conducted a study involving 110 university students. The students rated their general depression levels during the past few years, from 1 (never depressed) to 10 (depressed all the time). They classified whether their depression was chronic or situational and rated their energy levels from 1 (low) to 10 (high).

The students were then divided into two groups and asked to perform one of two movement patterns for about three minutes: walking in a slouched posture or skipping. After the exercise, participants rated their subjective energy level and described their subjective experience. Next, they switched to the other movement pattern and again rated their experience.

It may come as no surprise that participants reported that the slouched walk made them feel sad, lonely, isolated, and tired, whereas the skipping made them feel energetic, happy, and positive. What is interesting, though, is that the slouched walk appeared to have a larger negative impact on the students who were more depressed. There was a significant decrease in energy levels after the slouched walk among the students with the highest 20 percent of depression scores and no significant change for students with the lowest 20 percent of depression scores. For both groups, skipping significantly increased energy levels.

So, why does this matter? Depression is commonly associated with having less energy—and less energy can lead to more depressive thinking. It can be a vicious cycle. From the results of this study, the researchers concluded that energy level could increase or decrease depending on posture. The results indicate that the mind-body relationship goes both ways—the mind influences the body and the body influences the mind.

If you want to avoid sinking (further) into depression, it can’t hurt to stand up straight. Need help with posture? Pilates can be an excellent way to improve core strength and posture.



Peper E, Lin IM. Increase or decrease depression: How body postures influence your energy level. Biofeedback. 2012; 40(3): 125-130.