By Erin Palinski-Wade

Walking can help to improve posture, especially if you pay attention to it. Want to look younger than your biological age in a second? Stand up straight! Your posture, whether good or poor, can impact your appearance. Those who stand up tall and display good posture are most often seen as being younger and more vibrant.

But posture does more than just impact your appearance. It can also have a significant impact on your overall health.

Poor posture, such as standing with a hunched back or rounded shoulders, can lead to breathing problems, joint pain, increased fall risk, and increased back pain. The more misaligned your posture is, the more misaligned your joints may become. And if your joints are misaligned, you’re more likely to feel stiff and sore with every step you take.

However, having proper posture keeps your whole body in alignment. From your neck all the way down to your knees and feet, your joints stay aligned and are therefore healthier overall.

As you increase the speed of your walk, your muscles have to work harder to keep you upright. These are the same muscles that you use to sit up tall and to carry yourself with good posture. Although walking by itself helps to strength these muscles, you also want to think about your posture as you walk.

Avoid looking down at the ground or hunching over with your shoulders and back as you walk. Instead, keep your chin up and look in front of you instead of down. Keep your core tight and your shoulders down and back. This position helps to strength your muscles, allowing you to have good posture all day long.

In addition to monitoring your body positions, many helpful products are available on the market to help improve flexibility and posture, from resistance bands to fitness balls to back and posture braces. They’re sold everywhere from big box retailers like Wayfair (who offers free shipping and free returns online) to specialty stores such as Sports Authority.

It’s possible to improve posture and flexibility on your own; however, if you’re struggling with these areas or want to make progress more quickly, using these types of products can help.