”Honey!? Can you grab me those bowls from the top shelf?”
”Where’s the stepstool? I can’t reach my sweaters in the closet!”
Does this sound like you? Have you noticed over the years that those once easy-to-reach items on the back of the shelf are now out of reach? Well, then you, like millions of aging Americans, are in the same boat!
It’s true that as we age we tend to shrink. First off, gravity plays a small part, compressing the spine when we stand therefore accounting for some loss in height. Secondly, disease – such as osteoporosis – can play a role as well. With osteoporosis, bone breaks down and not enough new bone material is being made by the body to replace the loss. Small-framed women tend to be diagnosed with osteoporosis more than any other group.
In fact, it has been shown that after the age of 40 people can lose about four-tenths of an inch every 10 years. However, the main reason we are shrinking as we age is loss of bone density. The small cushiony disks between our vertebrae can dry out and become thinner causing the vertebrae to compress and in essence cause you to lose inches.
Luckily for us, there are steps that can be taken to slow down (but not stop) the process. People who exercise regularly often have stronger core muscles. A stronger core can be attributed to better posture and in turn more height and sustained height as well. Preliminary research has also been done on the effects of yoga on reversing curvatures of the spine. It seems that if yoga is practiced regularly and begun at an early age, there may be signs that it can prevent the condition totally.
Then there is the old standby that we have heard our whole lives: that getting enough calcium and vitamin D builds strong bones! Well, it’s true! Getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet can help! So, drink your milk…ok, let’s not kid ourselves….go have some ice cream and then get your behind to the gym to do some crunches so you can rest easy knowing you’re doing your best to prevent height loss as you age!
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