Some people dislike their height and wish they could be taller. While leading a healthy lifestyle can support growth, there is not much that a fully grown adult can do to increase their height.

About 80% of a person’s height depends on their genetics. After a person has reached adulthood, most tricks to increase height — such as good nutrition — will not work.

However, there are ways to appear taller and prevent loss of height, which is common as people age.

This article looks at what determines height, how to prevent height loss, and more.

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Height stems from a range of factors, including:

  • genetics
  • sex assigned at birth
  • certain medical conditions
  • nutrition
  • exercise
  • secretion of growth hormone from the pituitary gland

Genetics plays the most significant role in determining a person’s height. Studies on twins have demonstrated the importance of heredity in determining a person’s body type.

This means that if a person’s parents are tall, it is more likely that they will also be tall. If a person’s parents are short, it is much more likely that the person will be short, as well.

Sex is another biological factor that plays a role in determining a person’s height. Females tend to have less total height potential than males.

Certain medical conditions can also play a role in determining a person’s height. The following conditions can change how a person grows during childhood:

Nutrition also affects a person’s height potential. Getting good nutrition that includes dietary sources of vitamins and minerals helps people grow. Conversely, individuals who do not get adequate nutrition may not grow as tall.

Studies have found that as nutrition has improved over time, people have grown taller. This suggests that children who eat a diet rich in calcium, protein, and other nutrients will be able to maximize their potential for growth.

Physical activity also plays a role in childhood growth and height, as being active promotes the release of human growth hormone.

When this hormone activates, a child with open growth plates in their bones may experience more growth than they would if they were not physically active.

However, once the growth plates in the bones close, a person will generally not grow any taller.

Most females reach their full adult height aged 14–16 years. Most males reach their full height by the age of 16–18 years. It is very unusual for a person to grow after the age of 18 years.

Although a person cannot increase their height after the growth plates in the bones have closed, there are ways to look taller. These include the following.

Practice good posture

Not only does standing and sitting with good posture make people look taller, but it also helps prevent the neck and back pain that often accompany slouching.

A person can stand with good posture by:

  • keeping the shoulders back
  • pulling the belly toward the spine with the muscles lightly engaged
  • keeping the head level and in line with the body
  • placing the feet shoulder-width apart
  • avoiding locking the knees
  • keeping the weight primarily on the balls of the feet
  • letting the arms hang naturally at the sides

A person can practice good sitting posture by:

  • keeping the feet flat on the floor while sitting
  • adjusting the chair height so that the thighs stay parallel to the floor and the feet are flat on the floor
  • avoiding crossing the legs
  • supporting the back using a small pillow or towel
  • letting the shoulders rest comfortably

Maintaining good posture helps keep the proper space between the vertebra, and it may make a person look taller.

Strengthen the core muscles

A strong midsection can help a person maintain good posture and look taller. The core muscles are the muscles in the abdomen and along the spinal column.

These muscles help support the spine. When these muscles are too weak, the spine is not properly supported and may compress. This can also lead to slouching.

To get stronger core muscles, a person can try the following exercises:

  • Plank: Keeping abdominal muscles engaged, hold the position at the top of a pushup.
  • Superman: Lying on the stomach, extend the arms, legs, and head off the floor and hold.
  • Abdominal crunch: Lying on the back with the knees bent and the feet on the floor, raise the head and shoulders using the core muscles.

Take supplements

Some vitamins and minerals can supplement a healthy diet. Certain supplements can help strengthen bone, the support system of the body that helps an individual maintain good posture.

Supplementing with calcium and vitamin D can improve bone density and prevent the bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis, arthritis, fractures, and stooped posture.

A person should avoid supplements that manufacturers claim can lead to growth in adulthood. Once the growth plates close, which happens after puberty, there is no way to add height, regardless of what appears on the label of the supplement bottle.

Eat a nutritious diet

According to a 2016 literature review, average adult height has increased in high income countries in a short period. The study authors note that previous research shows that improvements in diet, as well as overall improved living standards and decreased disease exposure, are responsible for the height increase.

Eating a nutritious, balanced diet provides the body with the nutrients it needs to maintain strong bones and prevent osteoporosis and bone loss. Bone loss can lead to height loss as the spine and joints compress.

A balanced diet includes a variety of colorful vegetables alongside leafy greens, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats.

Wear higher shoes

Wearing heeled or platform shoes is a simple and convenient way to add temporary height. However, a 2016 study showed that wearing shoes with taller heels and walking at a higher speed can impair a person’s balance, which could lead to injury.

Another 2016 study found that wearing high heels puts strain on the cervical and lumbar muscles in healthy women. The authors state that this could lead to muscle fatigue, swelling, and decreased movement.

Therefore, a person may wish to wear heeled shoes only occasionally. A person should also walk carefully when wearing these shoes to avoid injury.

Do yoga

Doing yoga may help loosen the muscles and lead to increased body flexibility and better posture, providing the appearance of more height.

A 2016 study found that yoga increased the bone density of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. The authors suggest that yoga allows the bones to retain calcium, which may strengthen them and allow a person to gain better posture.

As bone loss is one of the leading causes of height loss with age, yoga may prevent the loss of height in adulthood.

Although adults cannot do much to increase their height, they can take steps to avoid the age-related loss of height.

After a person reaches the age of 30 years, they may lose as much as half an inch of height per decade due to osteoporosis, compression of the spine, and other reasons. This can add up to a significant loss of height over time.

People can take steps to combat age-related shrinking. These include:

  • maintaining adequate nutrition, including getting plenty of calcium
  • doing weight-bearing exercises regularly to combat muscle loss
  • staying properly hydrated
  • quitting smoking, if applicable
  • getting plenty of rest

This section answers some common questions about increasing height as an adult.

How long does it take to improve posture to seem taller?

According to a 2017 study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, it may take about 8 weeks for better posture to make a person appear taller.

In the study, researchers randomly assigned 28 participants to one of three exercise protocols to improve their posture. The team took posture measurements before the exercise program and after 8 weeks.

All of the protocols led to significant improvements in posture after the 8-week period. Although each body is different, it will generally take about this length of time for the body posture to improve enough to give the appearance of more height.

In addition to performing posture-improving exercises, a person should reduce activities that cause posture to decline, such as continually looking down at a phone or slouching in a chair.

How much height increase can you expect from enhancing your posture?

A person’s posture can make them appear shorter if they slump their shoulders or neck or round their spine. This can take several inches away from their true height.

Although there is not much research on how much height can increase with improved posture, there are anecdotal reports of up to 2 inches.

After the age of 30 years, people begin to lose height gradually. On average, individuals lose about half an inch in height every 10 years. This loss may accelerate after the age of 70 years. Slouching and similar posture habits can exacerbate this loss, making an individual appear shorter.

An adult cannot increase their height after the growth plates close. However, there are plenty of ways a person can improve their posture to look taller.

A person can also take preventive measures against height loss as they age. These include eating a balanced, nutritious diet, exercising, using supplements, and practicing good posture.