Stand up straight, shoulders back, quit slouching, don't slump.

At the risk of sounding like our mothers, we relentlessly remind our children of the value of good posture.That's OK, because our mothers were right: Posture plays a sizable role not only in how we look but also in how we feel - and even in how well our internal organs function.

Posture determines the pull of gravity on the body, and if life in general seems to be weighing you down, it may be in part because you are giving gravity too much leverage.

When you slouch, you present a larger area of the body parallel to the ground, giving gravity a larger area to pull against, points out Dr. Kari Rollins, medical director of the Wellness Center.

"Water is to fish like gravity is to people," Rollins says. "We don't feel it, but the more vertical we are with respect to gravity, the less area there is to pull down on. Standing and sitting straight makes us lighter, gives us less resistance."

Poor posture makes us like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It takes 780 tons of lead at the base of the 180-foot bell tower to act as a counterbalance and prevent it from succumbing to gravity.

By properly aligning our bodies - ears centered over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over knees and knees over ankles - we give gravity the least area to pull against.