It might seem like exercise can help with anything, but there are no workouts that make you taller. Growth happens from infancy to early adulthood, but once the growth plates in your bones are sealed, you're done growing.
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Exercise can't make you taller, but it won't stunt growth either. Focus on postural exercises to make yourself seem taller.
Normal Bone Growth
In a healthy child, growth occurs naturally for years. At the end of the bones are sections called epiphyseal growth plates. The National Cancer Institute explains that these growth plates contain osteoblasts, which lay down new bone. This new bone is placed at the ends of the shaft and makes your body grow taller.
The new bone (cartilage) that's laid down is soft. Eventually, it hardens and turns into regular bone. This process can continue into adulthood — as late as your early 20s. However, most growth occurs in childhood and teenage years. After that, the epiphyseal plates harden and growth stops.
Even though exercise can't accelerate your growth, it helps keep your bones healthy. Not only do your bones grow longer, but they're constantly reshaping themselves by laying down new bone and healing tiny fractures. Workouts can help keep your skeleton robust and healthy, even though there aren't any exercises that make you taller.
Workouts Don't Stunt Growth
The belief that exercise at a young age can stunt growth is false, according to a March-April 2019 study published in the Journal of Pediatrics. Researchers analyzed several studies on exercise and growth. Although there weren't many high-quality studies on the subject, they could reasonably determine that there was no effect on growth.
Researchers concluded that exercise can help by promoting the growth of bones and muscles that keep the body strong. They also noted that pregnant women weren't adversely affected by exercise.
A September 2016 research paper published in Pediatrics examined the effects of early sports specialization on children and adolescents. The authors explain that sports training has become more intense and focused in recent years, leading to an increased risk of injury in younger athletes.
They also note that female athletes who train too hard and don't eat enough can have delayed menarche (the first menstrual cycle) and develop something called the "female athlete triad," which affects bone growth. This shows that nutrition plays a role in development, although the above article doesn't mention any specific foods that make you taller.
An April 2018 study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that adults who exercise regularly find it easier to maintain healthy bones. As it turns out, the type of activity you do matters.
In the above study, people who played soccer developed thicker bones than those who swam or cycled. The high-impact nature of soccer was the cause.
Read more: The Best Supplements for Bone Healing
Workouts That Make You Taller
While there aren't any workouts that make you taller, you can do specific exercises to improve your posture and appear taller. Harvard Health Publishing has a few tips for a better posture, which you can use throughout the day as reminders. One tip is to keep your chin parallel to the ground, which will keep your head in alignment.
Another tip is to keep your shoulders even. Also, roll your shoulders up, down and back. Keep your arms at your sides and straight down without bending the elbows or flaring them out to the side. Your spine should be neutral, not curved excessively one way or the other.
Keeping your posture in alignment not only helps you appear taller, but it can help you avoid pain as well. A small June 2015 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science has found that people who did posture correction exercises for 20 minutes, three times per week, experienced less pain overall. If you have aches and pains, postural exercises are a good idea.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine provides some tips for improving your posture, such as staying active. Go for walks or stand up at work instead of sitting. Be mindful of your posture throughout the day and avoid slouching.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Guide to Good Posture"
- Journal of Physical Therapy Science: "Effect of an Exercise Program for Posture Correction on Musculoskeletal Pain"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Why Good Posture Matters"
- Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport: "The Effect of 12-Month Participation in Osteogenic and Non-Osteogenic Sports on Bone Development in Adolescent Male Athletes. The Pro-Bone Study"
- Pediatrics: "Sports Specialization and Intensive Training in Young Athletes"
- Journal of Pediatrics: "Effects of Physical Activity on Children's Growth"
- National Cancer Institute: "Bone Development & Growth"