There are several things you can do to help prevent height loss as you get older.
“The best treatment for height loss prevention are these things: Stay active with weight bearing exercises,” begins Susan L. Besser, MD, with Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore; Diplomate, American Board of Obesity Medicine and board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.
Dr. Besser continues, “Keep your weight in a normal range. Maintain good posture. Be sure your diet has protein, calcium and vitamin D.”
Additional Factors to Consider
There is an association between getting shorter with older age, and a cognitive decline in older age.
This is the conclusion of a study from the University of Southern California, Harvard University and Peking University.
For this investigation, 17,708 people were involved, starting at age 45.
Subjects who had lost the most height over the years were much more likely to do poorly on standard tests measuring cognitive abilities.
No causal effect was established, so it’s possible that whatever was causing height shrinkage was also causing cognitive decline.
If you’re still in high school, make sure to complete it, because this study also found that high school completion was associated with a one-centimeter LESS loss of height.
Causes of Loss of Height As We Age
- Decrease in bone mass
- Brittle porous bones
- Certain types of arthritis
Weight bearing exercise, as Dr. Besser mentioned, is a crucial factor in the prevention of height loss.
Lifting weights forces the muscles to pull on the bones (not the other way around).
This stresses the bones, forcing them to get stronger to adapt. This pulling doesn’t just affect the limb bones, but also the spinal bones — helping to prevent brittleness with age.
Weak brittle bones will collapse, causing that “old lady stoop” posture. This also happens to men who don’t strength train.
You may have read that overweight is protective against osteoporosis (weak porous bones).
If you’re overweight, you can still lose height and still have weak bones in older age.
A lean person who engages in serious strength training, along with taking the other preventive measures noted here, will have strong bones in older age — and hence, very little chance of height loss.