Are you shorter than you were ten years ago? It’s not your imagination. It’s normal to lose height with age. This happens because the discs that lie between the vertebrae in the spine dry out and shrink in size. This causes the spine to become more compressed.
Loss of Height with Age: How Much Can You Lose?
Most people can expect to lose about 1.5 inches in height from disc shrinkage. This gradual loss of height starts after the age of 30 and continues throughout life. Women usually lose more height with age than men. If you’re 6 feet tall, shrinking a little may not bother you, but if you’re barely 5 feet, you want to hold on to all the height you can. Fortunately, there’s a way to cut this age-related loss of height in half – by exercising.
In one study carried out in Israel, participants who exercised on a consistent basis lost only half the amount of height over time as those who were sedentary. Weight bearing exercise and resistance training also reduces the risk of osteoporosis, another reason why people lose height. Staying active has its benefits.
Too Much Loss of Height Is Abnormal
Some loss of height is normal but too much shrinkage can be a sign of osteoporosis. If a woman loses more than 2 inches from her peak adult height, she has a greater risk of osteoporosis of the hip or spine. Loss of height can also be a sign of a vertebral fracture in the spinal column. That’s why your doctor should closely monitor your height over time to watch for unexpected shrinkage that could signal bone problems. It’s also a good idea to follow your own height too.
How to Reduce How Much Height You Lose As You Age
You can’t completely prevent the loss of height due to aging, but you can limit how much you shrink by doing weight bearing exercise and resistance training to reduce disc shrinkage and increase bone density. Getting adequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium helps to preserve bone health and the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures too.
Exercise is good not only for your heart, lungs and muscles; it keeps your bones healthy and helps to preserve your height. Loss of bone density is also linked with other health problems such as frailty, disability and a higher mortality rate. Keep exercising to build beautiful muscles, but do it for your bones too.
Medscape.com website. “Height Loss in Older Women May Signal Vertebral Fracture”
Dr. Gabe Mirkin website. “Height Loss with Aging”
Medscape.com website. “Screening for Height Loss Could Prevent Hip Fractures”