Not-So-Tall Tales About Shrinking as You Age
By Sara Butler
Image Source: Vox
I had a terrible thought as I was watching Ant Man and the Wasp in movie theaters -- that I’m shrinking. Sure, it may not be on demand or even that fast, but as we get older, we’re all shrinking just a little bit. I won’t lie, the thought really freaks me out.
There must be something we can do about it, right? I mean, aside from paying crazy amounts of money to go live out the rest of our natural lives on the International Space Station, there must be a way to stop the crazy shrinking! Or is getting shorter something we all have to learn to come to terms with?
A Little Bit of Shrinking
Unfortunately, shrinking is just a normal part of the aging process. It happens for three reasons:
- Your spinal discs shrink - The discs are pumped up by fluid, but less fluid gets to them as you get older, causing them to flatten and your spine to lose length.
- Your arches fall - The arches in your feet will flatten just a little as you age, causing you to be just a little bit shorter.
- You lose muscle mass - Your muscles help you stand up tall and you simply lose them over time, causing your posture to get a little poorer and your appearance to be just a bit shorter.
How much can you expect to shrink? Well, nowhere near the size of Ant Man, but the average person can expect to lose about one-third to one-quarter of an inch every decade after hitting 40. By the time men turn 70, they’ve lost about one-and-a-half inches, while women can lose up to two inches. Oh, the humanity!
Stop the Insanity!
Is there anything you can do to stop the cruel mistress of time? Well, no -- but there are things you can do to try to stop the shrinkage from impacting you too much.
Regular exercise is a biggie, especially weight-bearing exercises such as running or jogging. These exercises work the hips and the legs, which can help shore up your muscle mass as well as your bone mass. You can also make sure to get enough Vitamin D since it will contribute to strong bones. Make sure your diet is rich in foods with plenty of Vitamin D such as kale, almonds, and broccoli.
Of course, paying attention to posture is also one of the most important things you can do to stop shrinking. When you maintain good posture, you’re working to keep your bones healthy, your muscles strong, and unnecessary stress off your spine. If you’re unsure how to keep your posture proper, the chiropractors at The Joint are a great resource.
Speaking of chiropractors, regular chiropractic care and adjustments can also help to keep your spine healthy as you age, perhaps even helping you to avoid shrinking too much.
I guess I still need to work on that whole “aging gracefully” thing, but with the help of the chiropractors at The Joint, I should be able to shrink my fears and stay healthy as I “mature.”
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