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Gerontology. 2000 Sep-Oct;46(5):266-70.

Role of physical activity training in attenuation of height loss through aging.

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Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Division, The Zinman College of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at the Wingate Institute, Netanya, Israel.



Although the genetic contribution to variability in bone mass has been estimated to be as high as 80%, evidence continues to accumulate suggesting that factors such as physical activity can influence bone mass which may avoid compression of the vertebrae leading to slower stature decline with age.


This study examines whether regular exercise has the potential of positively affecting the aging process with regard to height loss.


The height of 957 females and 1,088 males who were 35-55 years of age in 1965 were measured again in 1995. Based on a questionnaire, the subjects were divided into four groups. Group A (80 females, aged 73. 2 +/- 6 years, and 141 males, aged 72.1 +/- 5.7 years) represented subjects who were engaged in moderate vigorous aerobic activity throughout their lives; group B (95 females, aged 73.6 +/- 5.5 years, and 207 males, aged 71.7 +/- 6.1 years) were subjects who started their moderate vigorous aerobic activity around the age of 40 and kept their activity until the present time; group C (362 females, aged 73.2 +/- 5 years, and 390 males, aged 71.1 +/- 6 years) were persons who were active as young adults, but did not continue to exercise, and group D (425 females, aged 72.8 +/- 5.3 years, and 350 males, aged 70.9 +/- 6.1 years) were subjects who had not exercised regularly throughout their lives.


All subjects lost height due to aging. However, significant (p < 0.05) differences in rate of height loss were found among the A, B, C, and D groups: for females 3.4 +/- 0.7, 3.5 +/- 0.8, 6.0 +/- 0.5, and 6.5 +/- 0.7 cm, respectively; for males 2.6 +/- 0.5, 3.1 +/- 0.4, 5.3 +/- 0.4, and 5. 5 +/- 0.5 cm, respectively. In addition, the females' height loss rate was significantly (p < 0.05) higher than that of the males in all four activity categories.


These data suggest that lifelong moderate endurance training, especially after the age of 40 years, is associated with attenuation of height loss in both sexes. However, the magnitude of the attenuation is significantly higher in males.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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