Combining good body posture with exercise is the ideal way to tone muscles, look taller and slimmer, and reduce joint pain.

Many of us are guilty of it - slouching over the computer at work, folding up awkwardly on the sofa or lugging around heavy bags that put unnecessary strain on our shoulders. But bad posture can lead to all sorts of aches and pains as well as making us look less confident, so try taking your primary school teacher’s advice and sitting up straight with your shoulders back and your stomach in.

"When you are in poor alignment, you create muscle imbalances," explained the Tampa Bay Times.

"Some muscles weaken and others become tight. But it is never too late to begin replacing some of those bad habits with good ones and, in the process, decrease back and neck discomfort. Introducing small daily changes can make a difference for the better."

The benefits of a good posture also include improved breathing, which in turn allows the muscles to function more effectively, increased energy and better health - poor body alignment has been linked to arthritis pain, back trouble and spinal fractures.

To maintain better posture throughout the day, remind yourself to keep your ankles, hips, shoulders and ears in a straight line whether you’re sitting down or standing up, the newspaper advised.

Lift your head when you’re walking around, because tucking your chin inward can put pressure on your vertebrae and lead to tension headaches and neck, shoulder and back pain.

Body positioning is especially important when you’re taking your Yoga equipment to the gym for an exercise class, because an upright posture should allow "more fluid, effortless movement" which in turn will lead to "better performance and health", the Vancouver Sun reported.

Posted by Freya Harper