Wellness Pathway #279 Stop Shrinking

I was surprised to read in the December 2005 issue of the Harvard Health Letter just how much height people lose over the years. Between the ages of 30 and 85, the average man loses 2.7 inches (6.9 centimeters) in height while the average woman loses 4 inches (10 centimeters). Now that’s a lot of height to lose, especially when you consider the impact of losing that height on our daily nutritional needs. Every inch lowers our target Body Mass Index by almost 5 pounds, which translates into consuming about 25 calories less per day just to stay even as we shrink in size.

What’s a person to do? Here is a quick summary of the Harvard Health Letter recommendations as well as one of my own:

1. Arch Your Back. Height loss is due, in part, to people developing a permanent hunch in their backs. This can even cause painless fractures which contribute to the development of a prominent hump in the upper back. Arching your back can help to forestall this eventuality. Whether lying face down on the floor, and then lifting your shoulders off the ground, or sitting and standing while rolling your shoulders back, arching your back works best when it becomes a routine that takes place multiple times per day.

2. Stay In Shape. Those who exercise regularly lose less height as they age. Weight-bearing exercise stimulates the creation of bone tissue while stronger back muscles assists people to counteract the natural forward pull of sitting, reaching, and stooping. Daily routines which include a mix of aerobic, strength, flexibility, and balances exercises are important not only to height maintenance but also to overall health.

3. Take Your Supplements. Bone loss, known as osteoporosis, is a well known phenomenon in both men and women. It contributes to both shrinking and fractures as we age. The skeleton of a typical 70-year-old is about a third lighter than the typical 40-year-old’s because of osteoporosis. In addition to exercise, getting enough calcium and vitamin D are important strategies. In my estimation, it’s better to get these essential nutrients through dark green leafy vegetables and supplements than through dairy products.

For people over 50, calcium consumption should reach 1,200 milligrams per day while vitamin D consumption should reach as much as 1,000 International Units. Calcium citrate is the best supplement form to take. Vitamin D is also made by our skin in response to sunlight, but not during the six months of the year when the sun is in the opposite hemisphere. There’s no problem taking a vitamin D supplement year-round.

4. Drink Your Water. I have mentioned before that dehydration is another problem that contributes to our shrinking with age Click. People who live and work in air conditioned environments, which is most of us, are particularly prone to dehydration by virtue of the moisture taken out of the air by the evaporator coil. All the more reason to drink a minimum of 2 quarts or liters of clean, filtered water on a daily basis. Most people can well afford to drink twice that much. It’s best to stay with water as your primary liquid, and to minimize the consumption of other liquids throughout the day.

These four strategies may not prevent height loss over time, but they will help to minimize that loss even as they serve to protect and promote your health with age. If staying well is important to you, then these are four strategies you won’t want to live without.

Coaching Inquiries: When was the last time that you intentionally arched your back? Could you do it right now? How could you do it more frequently through the day? How could you bolster your daily exercise, supplement, and hydration regimens? Who could you talk with to support on the journey toward health and wellness?

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Wellness Coaching programs and to arrange for a complimentary wellness coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Bob.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
2010-2011 President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

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