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Exercise in Teen Years May Help Mitigate Height Loss Later in Life

Height loss is common in older women and may increase the risk of disease and death. A recent study suggests that performing strenuous exercise at least three times per week as a teenager may help reduce the likelihood of height loss later in life. It also found that older age, heavier weight, and use of corticosteroids may contribute to a height loss of one inch or more.


Participants in the study included 1,024 women with an average age of 66 who were enrolled in the Buffalo Osteoporosis and Periodontal Disease Study. The researchers measured their height at the beginning of the study and again five years later. Demographics, lifestyle, medicatl history, and medication use were assessed at baseline.


The researchers found that the average height loss was four-tenths an inch. The 70 women who experienced height loss of more than one inch tended to be older in age, weighed more at the beginning of the study, and had higher intake of corticosteroids. The women who had the least height loss had exercised strenuously — meaning enough to work up a sweat and raise their heart rate — at least three times a week as teenagers.


Researchers from University at Buffalo conducted the study. It was published May 7, 2018, in Menopause.


Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health.  The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults aged 18-64 get at least two and a half hours (150 minutes) each week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity. Older adults should follow the adult guidelines as their abilities allow and should perform exercises that maintain or improve balance.

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