Does Exercise Affect Male Height?


Much has been said about the effects of exercise on male height. One school of thought maintains that intense sports, like gymnastics or heavy weightlifting, can stunt growth. Another asserts that a certain level of fitness is necessary to develop healthy bones and growth. Although exercise can have an impact on a male's growth, in the end it is genetics that plays the major role in determining height.

Role of Genetics

  • Genetics is more likely to determine your height than the amount of exercise you do, says the National Institutes of Health. The taller your parents are, the higher your chances of growing tall. The Tech Museum of Innovation explains that height is 90-percent genetic, with the rest coming down to environmental factors like exercise.

Moderate Exercise

  • According to geneticists with the Tech Museum of Innovation, it is theorized that a moderate amount of exercise could cause you to grow taller. Although not much research has been done on humans specifically, studies indicate that active animals end up developing longer, stronger bones. This may be due to the exercise-related release of growth hormone and testosterone, two chemicals that aid growth. Researchers suspect that if you exercised regularly as a child -- for example, if you played soccer three times a week -- you might be 1 to 2 inches taller than you would have been otherwise.

Intense Exercise

  • On the flip side, intense exercise can actually stunt growth, although this is rare. It's a phenomenon sometimes seen in gymnasts and bodybuilders. According to the Tech Museum of Innovation, this happens because your bones aren't able to grow longer when you're burning more energy than you take in. A young athlete can also stunt his growth if he breaks a bone at the growth plate, says orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel Green.

No Exercise

  • You won't necessarily be short if you don't exercise, says the Tech Museum of Innovation, but lack of exercise results in weaker bones. It is also possible that your body will not release all of the growth hormone and testosterone that you need to reach your maximum height.

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