Good posture is essential to making sure that you do not put undue stress on certain parts of your body, like your back. It will also make you look taller and more confident. When everything is lined up correctly, your body uses less energy, and you won’t feel fatigued. Proper posture requires you to consciously work to counter bad habits, but good health is worth the temporary inconvenience. Here are some steps you can take to improve your posture:

Check your reflection
When you first decide that you want to improve your posture, check your normal body placement and alignment when you stand by a mirror. This way, you can see whether you hunch your shoulders or stick out your stomach. Determine the areas that you need to correct. Looking at your reflection can also help remind you to stand up straight or counter your slouching.

Strengthen your back and core
Yoga is a great way to do this because it increases your range of motion and flexibility while making you more aware of the positioning of your body. It can also strengthen your core muscles that stabilize your torso. Also make sure to strengthen your back muscles for better alignment and less back pain. Poor posture can weaken certain muscles and cause a permanently hunched back, so do what you can to counter this.

Watch the weight of your bag or purse.
This also applies to men. Many people carry an unnecessarily heavy load in their shoulder bag. This can cause back pain and throw off your posture. If you have limited your load to just the essential and still have a lot to carry, try alternating shoulders. Ill-fitting bras are another posture killer. Make sure your bra isn’t too tight. If it is, it can force your shoulders forward while not providing enough support, thus causing more back pain. Get measured so you can find a bra that provides the proper support and comfort.

Learn how to sit, sleep and drive
Those hours of sitting at the computer certainly take a toll on your body, so it is important to work on your posture. Sit as far back in the chair as you can and keep your shoulders back. Bend your knees at a right angle that is level with (or slightly higher) than your hips. Use a leg rest or a footstool to help. If you have to sit for long periods of time, make sure you get up and stretch every once in a while.

Your sleep position matters when it comes to preventing back pain and, thus, poor posture. Sleeping on your side is your best bet. Bring your knees up slightly and place a pillow between them to prevent twisting. If you sleep on your back, put a pillow under your knees to protect your lower back. If you are a stomach sleeper, situate a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen.

Also watch the way you drive, since it is common to lean your head forward while you grip the steering wheel. Move your seat forward until your knees are even with or slightly higher than your hips and you can still reach the pedal. Make sure to lean your head against the headrest.