The question of whether or not you can get taller by exercising is a long-debated one. While some say it’s not possible, others would swear that they or someone they know were able to increase a couple of inches by stretching.
So, what’s the truth? Can exercise really make you tall? In this article, we will put this question to bed once and for all.
The Science Behind Body Height
Before jumping to the exercises, here are some must-know things about your height.
You Only Grow for a Certain Time
People stop growing after going through puberty. Most boys reach their adult height by 16 and girls by 13. But again, some may continue gaining height until the early 20s.
You see, there are certain tissues in your bones known as the growth plates. As time passes, they start fusing with growth plates from other bones. And after puberty, all these growth plates would have finished combining, which basically means there’s no place left for your bones to grow further.
Genetics is the Biggest Factor
Genetics is the number one factor that affects your physicality. According to studies, it can contribute to up to 80% of your height. Hence, you may have to look at your parents to know how tall or short you will be.
You can get an estimate of a child’s height by comparing it with their parents. Here is the formula:
For Boys = (Father’s Height + Mother’s Height+5)/2
For Girls = (Father’s Height + Mother’s Height-5)/2
The actual height can fluctuate but generally is close to the number that you get from this analysis.
Other Factors Only Help to Reach Your Potential Height
The human body has been genetically programmed as to the maximum height it can reach during birth. But some people may not be able to reach their potential due to reasons such as lack of nutrition, exercise, diseases, etc.
So, Can I Really Not Be Tall If My Parents Aren’t Tall?
In general, the answer is yes. While you may be a little taller than either of your parents, it is very likely that you won’t tower above both of them.
But again, genetics and human anatomy are very complicated, so there’s still hope. If your grandparents or some relatives are tall, then there’s some chance you may follow in their footsteps.
Remember how we said some may not reach their potential height? Say that either one of your parents couldn’t be the tallest version of themselves. But if you receive what they didn’t receive, for example, proper nutrition, you may actually be tall. This also explains the increase in global average human height throughout time.
The Role of Exercise in Growing Tall
Exercise tones and makes your bones and muscles stronger. Furthermore, it helps to improve your posture which is important for you to appear tall.
Some stretching exercises improve your body’s flexibility, which is essential for good blood circulation. In addition, exercise routines can also decrease stress.
All in all, if you have favorable genes, exercise will keep you healthy so that normal growth can occur. But remember, you shouldn’t expect your workouts to do miracles after your growth plates have fused.
Best Exercises to Increase Height
Here are some of the best workouts that you can do during adolescence to reach your maximum height.
Bar hanging can help decompress the spine and joints. Furthermore, it helps improve your posture and may minimize the effect of gravity on your height. Combining bar hanging with pull-ups is also a great way to increase upper body strength.
How to Do:
Find a horizontal bar that you can grab with your arms and still give your body some space above the ground. And as you hang, make sure that your palms are facing outwards and your shoulders are as relaxed as possible.
Similar to bar hanging, swimming decompresses your bones. In addition, this exercise engages your entire body, which means better blood flow, and increased hunger.
Another benefit of swimming is that despite not being very intense, it is one of the best workouts to avoid obesity. According to sources, even 30 minutes of gentle swimming can reduce your calorie count by 200 to 450.
Remember, bulkier people look shorter, so managing your weight should be an essential part of your fitness plan if gaining height is your ultimate goal.
How to Do Dry Land Swimming:
If you aren’t able to hit the pool, you can opt for alternate kicks, also known as dry land swimming.
Start by lying down flat on your stomach. After that, raise your right hand above your left arm and your left leg above your right. Maintain the position for four seconds and do the same with your other set of arms and legs.
On average, there’s about 5 cm growth on knees during puberty. Hence, you need to do various leg exercises for reaching optimal height, and one of the best ones for this purpose is single leg hopping. It stretches your leg bones, and also strengthens leg muscles, acting as a very effective balance exercise.
How to Do:
Stand straight with your knees slightly apart. Rest your palms on your hips. Slowly lift one of your legs and start jumping, as your body rests on the respective toe. Repeat for another leg. You can also alternate between them.
Did you know that stress may actually stunt growth? One of the reasons to help teens and kids to stay happy is to make sure that they reach their full growth potential.
In terms of exercise, yoga may just be the best workout to make you happy. Many yoga poses relax your body and mind. And like other exercises, they can improve your metabolism and circulatory health.
Yoga Poses to Increase Height and Flexibility
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Stand straight with your knees closed. Keep your hands on the side with your feet and lift your hands to the sky as you inhale. Stretch as much as possible. Slowly exhale, returning back to the normal pose.
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
Sit down and stretch your legs forward. Inhale, lifts your hands up, and touch your knees with your forehead, as your hands touch your feet. Hold the pose for a while (30 to 45) seconds before returning back to normal.
Vrikshasana (The Tree Pose)
Stand straight with your feet together and hands on the side. Bend your right leg, and rest its sole on your left knee. After that, join your palms and close your eyes. Relax for a bit, and repeat for the other leg.
Other Things to Do
In addition to working out, here are other things you need to do to become tall:
Get the Right Nutrients
Protein, Calcium and Vitamin D are the most important nutrients for height. Make sure you reach their daily requirements. You can also take supplements that are designed to release HGH and help you grow taller. Learn how to use them properly here.
As per various recommendations, you need 0.8 grams of protein for a kilogram of your body weight. For example, if you weigh 80 kgs, that means you require 80*0.8 grams, i.e., 64 grams of protein a day. You can use protein shakes to supplement your natural protein intake.
Various studies have shown that adults require at least 1000 mg and teens need 1300 mg of calcium a day. Harvard University recommends that adults should also get 1200 mg of calcium a day.
The daily Vitamin D requirement is between 1000 and 4000 IU.
Get Plenty of Sleep
It is seen that our body releases growth hormones during sleep. Hence, you must get enough rest during the night to grow tall.
Adults and teens alike should get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. If possible, people in their puberty should aim for nine hours of sound sleep.
Remember, sleep is when your body heals. It regulates your metabolism and is also seen to uplift your mood.
We have already talked about how stress can stunt growth. With teen depression being on the rise, its no surprise that many may not be able to be the tallest version of themselves.
If you feel like you are feeling a lot of stress, you can do some things right away to start feeling better:
Eat healthy food.
Get plenty of sleep.
Get a hobby.
Minimize the use of your phone.
Get professional support.
Finally, Let Your Height Worry You
According to the World Health Organization, the average height for men and women around the world are 171 cm and 159.5 cm respectively. Now, in many countries around the world, having these heights would be perfectly normal, but in others, you will be on the short side even with the global average.
The point is, no matter what your height, there is always a person who is shorter than you and is doing better in their life than you. Hence, you have to realize and accept the fact that height is something you can’t control, no matter how much pressure you put yourself in.
Rather, focus on being the best version of yourself. It is possible to achieve your goals no matter what- did you know that Muggsy Bogues is the shortest player to have made it into NBA even if he is only 5 feet 3 inches?
While a workout doesn’t directly influence your height, it does help your body to reach its potential. However, even if you have already surpassed your puberty, you shouldn’t stop exercising just because you can’t grow taller anymore.
Never forget that there is more to being healthy and attractive than becoming tall. And no matter what your stature, exercise certainly helps you to be the healthiest version of yourself, bringing down stress and lethargy, and maximizing confidence and well-being.