Are you slouching in your chair while you're reading this? 8 hours behind the desk every day and not enough exercise can dramatically affect your posture. No wonder that 7 out of 10 Britons say they have suffered with neck or back pain for more than 10 years!

You probably won’t be able to change your job. However, there are simple steps that can help you achieve your ideal shape and keep your back healthy.

Here are five ways to help keep back problems at bay:

  • Stand tall, sit tall, walk tall. Grandma was right! Just standing tall works the deep postural muscles, which hold you up against gravity. When you slouch, not only does it look bad but also it puts pressure on the spine and reduces the efficiency of your breathing and the ability of your core muscles to support the spine. Remember to lengthen up through the crown of your head and you’ll look taller and slimmer.
  • Keep your spine mobile. An inflexible spine is really ageing. Exercises such as Waist Twists can be done seated or standing anywhere and it helps to ease out many unwanted kinks. It also works the muscles, which define your waist.
  • Learn to breathe efficiently. Most of us breathe far too shallowly and miss out on all the wonderful benefits that more effective breathing brings: reduced stress; better posture; greater stamina to name a few. For a quick reminder of good breathing during the day, try sitting tall and place your hands on your ribs. As you breathe in focus on the back and sides of your ribs expanding. Breathe out completely, feel your ribcage closing but don’t lose your height, stay tall. Repeat a few times and feel yourself growing calmer, your mind clearer.
  • Keep your core muscles ‘fit for purpose’. Your deep core muscles wrap around your trunk like a natural girdle, supporting your spine like a built-in corset. Sometimes through injury or poor conditioning they aren’t as efficient as they should be. To locate your core muscles, sit tall, breathe in and as you breathe out gently engage your pelvic floor muscles and draw them up inside, you should feel your abdomen hollow. Hold this internal zip for a few seconds breathing wide as above. Now you’ve found them you can use them as, when and if you need to. Don’t be tempted to ‘hold’ them in all the time though, just engage them as required to help control your alignment and movements.
  • When you exercise, do first what you should and then what you would. We all tend to choose the exercises we like but they might not be the best ones for us.