There are only 24 hours in a day, and the average American spends about 6.5 of those hours sitting, according to a 2019 investigation in JAMA. Nikki Howard is one of those people who spends the majority of her workday sitting—mainly behind a computer screen.
Howard, a 29-year-old sketch comedy writer and producer tells Health she's "constantly sitting," and it's taking a toll on her health. "I get a lot of headaches from my bad posture," she says. "I also carry a lot of tension in my shoulders which makes my shoulders creep up." Unfortunately, she's not alone: the American Chiropractic Association estimates that up to 80% of the US population will experience back pain at some point in their lives.
But that's not all: Howard also deals with something called dead butt syndrome, which happens when a person gluteus medius muscle—one of three major muscles in the butt—becomes weakened, from spending too much time sitting down, Kristen Schuyten, a physical therapist at Michigan Medicine, previously told Health. "My butt will sometimes take quite some time to awaken from its slumber," Howard says.
That's why, over the course of 21 days, Howard is attempting to fix her posture for Health's 21-day challenge—and to gain some more confidence in the process. "What I want out of the 21-day transformation is not only to change all of that physical stuff, but mentally I would like to have a more fulfilled life and a balance," she says.
Howard, of course, isn't doing this on her own. She's also enlisted the help of a posture device that alerts the user with a vibration whenever they begin to slouch, as well as help from Abigail Allen, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Mount Sinai Health System. Also helpful: Howard's two dogs, which enable her to get outside when she normally wouldn't.
Watch the video above to see how Howard fares on her posture journey—which she initially thought would be a "cakewalk." (Hint: "It was not," she says.) "I never in my wildest dreams imagined that something so simple like my posture and getting outside would make such an impact," she says. "I just feel really grateful."
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