Civilization’s Worst Physical Habit: Avoid It – Don’t Become Older Than You Are

John Paul Ouvrier

John Paul Ouvrier

Oh my goodness!  What could the Wizard of Youth be talking about now?  Is there really a physical habit that qualifies as the worst?  And will it really make me older than I am?

The answer my friends is Yes and Yes.  There is such a habit, and it will make you older than you are.  And I will share it with you today with the promise that you will share this article in this fine Put Old On Hold magazine with all your friends if I am correct.  Is that a deal?  I will take that as a ‘YES’ now that I have thrown down the gauntlet.

Let me first start by saying what this habit is not: It is not a vice (smoking, alcohol, caffeine, etc.).  It is not a lack of poor choices (lack of exercise, bad diet, etc.)  It is plain and simple civilizations worst, worst, worst habit and can happen, and usually does to just about EVERYONE.  Do I have your undivided attention now?  Do you have your guesses?

If our civilization was to have a poor habit that affects us all, let me define the ‘all’ in that statement by referring this ‘all’ to those of us blessed enough to live in the modern world.  Those of us who could attend school, work, have families, etc.  And since this is my parameter for our discussion, let’s explore what most of us do physically during the day to discover a common physical habit that hurts us and that we can fix.

In our world, what do most of do on a daily basis?  Let’s take the top five average things a person would do for a duration each day:  Read.  Talk on the phone.  Drive.  Use the computer.  Work at a desk.   

Therefore, what do ALL of these physical activities have in common?  They ALL tighten up your shoulders.  And that is civilizations worst physical habit; tight shoulders.  (The tight shoulders we are referring to are known as your upper trapezius, or the same muscles someone would massage on your upper back- the ones you use to pull your shoulders up to your ears.

When your shoulders are tight, here’s what happens.

  • Your shoulders tighten up, which pushes your head forward and rounds your back.  You try to pull your back backward, yet can’t maintain this because the trapezius is stronger than the smaller posture muscles in the middle of your back.  You know this to be true to if you try and straighten up and two minutes later you’re round again.  Tight shoulders. 
  • This then pushes down your chest, which makes deep breathing impossible (which was a guess for some of you).  How can you breathe deeply if your ribs have been pushed down and stop the lungs from expanding?  How will you ever have enough air for your day (for your heart) if your shoulders are too tight?
  • This of course throws your body weight forward, because you’re now crooked, which automatically gives you smaller steps.  Have you ever seen an older adult taken small steps?  Check their shoulders next time.  And of course this throws your balance off completely, and if left unchecked makes you more rounded as the years go by…
  • And how about this? If your shoulders are tight, your chest is dropped, your ribs push down, and your stomach goes out…

Sadly, I see thousands of older adults every year under the mistaken assumption that exercise alone will help them.  Instead of great results, they get older faster, because physical exercise reinforces physical habits- good or bad- and therefore if you exercise with tight shoulders, you will get better at having tight shoulders.  You will then wake up one day, if you haven’t already, with very tight shoulders.

How can we combat this?  (And I will need to write an article to properly give credit to this.)  Here is a  simple idea until then:

  • Roll your shoulders in circles, front to back three times a day, ten times.  As you do this, breathe in deeply, relax your neck, lift up tall, and try and let your head go so that it feels like you have to balance it on top of your body.  Do this ONLY while seated.

I hope you will now learn to be aware of relaxing your shoulders. You could save a life with this article, prevent a fall, help someone’s breathing or joint life, in short, you could give the gift of freedom and health.  And sharing this article was my deal anyway:.  So please, don’t wait, go to your email list, attach this magazine, and save a life.  Blessings from the Wizard!


John Paul Ouvrier, is a fitness trainer who specializes in working with older adults.  He is the author of ‘The Wizard of Youth’ series for adults and children, the creator of ‘The Wizard of Youth 4 Kids Board Game’ and the Executive Director of Fitness For Charity.  His websites are: &  He can be reached at 


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