In the digital age, we have become more dependent on technology at work, home, and school, adopting sedentary behaviors that have led to the development of bad habits, such as text claw and iPosture. As we continue to slump and hunch over our computers and hand-held devices for an average of nine hours a day, we put extra pressure on our spine, causing pain in the neck and shoulders. According to a recent study published in the journal Health Psychology, a bad posture could be putting our sex drive in jeopardy, causing shallow breathing and exacerbating feelings of stress, which affects our sleep and energy levels.

Slouching can have an impact on our attitude and performance in various facets of life. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist who's done research on body language has revealed we can change other people’s perceptions and even our own body chemistry by changing body positions. Cuddy emphasizes posture can change hormones levels, specifically cortisol and testosterone. In her famous Ted Talk, Cuddy showed those who sat upright in a high power pose had a decrease in cortisol levels and an increase in testosterone levels. This suggests maintaining a “high power pose” could be beneficial for those looking to boost their sex drive.

To observe whether an upright seated posture could influence affective and cardiovascular responses to a psychological stress task, compared to a slumped seated posture, a team of researchers in New Zealand recruited a small cohort of 74 people. The participants were randomly assigned to either a slumped or upright seated posture during a reading test while their backs were strapped with physiotherapy tape to hold this posture throughout the experiment. To reduce expectation effects of posture, the cohort was told a cover story. The Trier Social Stress speech task was used to induce stress, and then measured the participants’ response, and assessed their mood, self-esteem, and perceived threat.

The findings revealed participants who sat up straight reported higher self-esteem, more arousal, better mood, and lower fear compared to their slouched counterparts. Slumped participants spoke less than those sitting upright; however, when they did speak, they used more negative emotion words, more first-person singular pronouns, showing they were more self-focused, more words linked to sadness, and fewer positive emotion words. “Adopting an upright seated posture in the face of stress can maintain self-esteem, reduce negative mood, and increase positive mood compared to a slumped posture,” the authors wrote in the study.

Proper posture can reduce self-focus and make someone more personable and loveable. Sitting upright reduces muscular stress, and can therefore reduce stressors in your life. Anxiety, depression, and stress, such as financial stress or work stress, are among some of the psychological causes of low sex drive, especially for women, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Stress can increase your cortisol levels, which can suppress our sex hormones over a prolonged period of time. Therefore, the lower sex hormones you have, the lower your libido. Fixing how you sit at work, school, or even at home can help reduce the physical stress and lower the emotional stress, which will significantly improve your sex life.  

To learn how to sit up straight to prevent back problems, “sitting disease,” and a drop in your libido, click here.  

Source: Broadbent E, Consedine N, Nair S et al. Do Slumped and Upright Postures Affect Stress Responses? A Randomized Trial. Health Psychology. 2014.