How tall are you? When was the last time you had your height measured? Many people believe themselves to be taller than they really are. In a French study, researchers measured 8,610 women over 60 and found that they overestimated their height by an inch, on average, and had lost about 2 inches from their tallest recalled height. Is it wishful thinking? Woefully, it is not. It is a sign of aging. So, how much height can you expect to lose? Based on research from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, women lose 2 inches between ages 30 and 70, while men lose more than 1 inch by age 70.
Why Do We Shrink as We Age?
Shrinking is normal for those who’ve had the good fortune to live a long life. People typically lose about half an inch each decade starting at age 40, according to Harvard Medical School. As we age, the gel-like discs between the spinal vertebrae dehydrate and thin out, compressing the spine. The spine can also become more curved. Weak abdominal muscles can add to a more stooped posture. Osteoporosis (low bone mass and loss of bone tissue that can lead to weak and fragile bone) and flattening arches can also add to loss of height.
How to Slow Shrinkage as We Age.
It is important to know that your bones are living tissue. While bone loss is part of aging, there are things you can do. Genetics and the bone density you built in the past do play a large role. But you can slow shrinkage by taking the following steps.
- Start with feeding your bones. Consuming enough calcium and vitamin D can help keep your bones strong.
- Quit your vices! Nix that smoking habit. It damages your bones by lowering the estrogen levels in men and women, making calcium absorption more difficult.
- Start or continue weight-bearing exercise, such as yoga. Studies have shown that adults who exercise after the age of 40, lose half as much height as those who never exercise or stopped working out.
What Can Yoga Do For Me?
Yoga is a great way to strengthen your bones without putting too much pressure on your joints. According to Wolfe’s law, bones grow along lines of stress. When we practice yoga, the yoga postures apply weight upon our body. It then send signals to your brain to strengthen your bones and promotes new bone mineral density. Encouragingly, yoga has been proven to improve bone mineral density according to a study by Loren Fishman. Yoga can also help with balance and coordination, which help lessen the risk of falls.
Standing Tall with Yoga
Yoga is used by millions of people. Not only will yoga help reduce stress, improve health, enhance athletic ability, recover from illness and/or injury. But now it has been discovered that yoga can help maintain and even build mineral density in our bones. Yoga is a great exercise for everyone. Regardless if you are concerned about the natural process of aging or not, yoga can simply improve the enjoyment of your daily life.
Tiffany is a certified Yoga Instructor with Yoga Alliance. She is currently a Yoga Therapist in-training. She can be found teaching therapeutic yoga classes at the Center for Relaxation & Renewal.