In a world where most models are long and lean, it's easy to start yearning for longer legs. Once you stop growing, though, there's no way to make your legs longer because longer legs require longer bones. Regular exercise can, however, help your legs look leaner, which can create the illusion of longer legs. Exercise can also stave off conditions that cause bone mass to decrease and height to shrink.
Exercise and Growth
Much of adult height is established during puberty, and after puberty, you won't get any taller. For women, puberty usually ends between the ages of 16 and 20, while men can grow into their early 20s. If you're still growing, regular exercise can help you build healthy bones and muscles, and this can encourage healthy growth. A 2000 article published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," for example, emphasizes the role of healthy diet and regular exercise in growth.
Preventing Height Loss
As you age, your bones can lose density, resulting in breaks and bad posture. The gradual wearing down of your bones can also cause you to lose height, including in your legs. Regular exercise can help prevent osteoporosis, keeping your legs long and healthy. According to MayoClinic.com, exercise can even reverse the effects of osteoporosis, so if you've already been diagnosed with the condition, it's not too late.
Longer Leg Illusion
Excess fat on your legs can make them look shorter, but when you lose fat, you create the illusion of longer legs. Muscle-building activities that create definition in your legs can make the illusion of longer legs even more powerful. Moreover, sometimes exercise improves posture and reduces muscle tension. If your legs are less tense, you might stand straighter, and this can make your legs look longer and your entire body look taller.
It's impossible to spot-reduce fat on your legs. Instead, do aerobic exercises that burn fat throughout the body such as walking, cycling and jumping rope. To increase muscle definition, try strength-building exercises such as leg lifts, squats, lunges and leg presses. Start slowly with only a few reps, then gradually build to more reps and a higher intensity.
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Growth and Pubertal Development in Children and Adolescents -- Effects of Diet and Physical Activity
- MayoClinic.com: Exercising With Osteoporosis -- Stay Active the Safe Way
- Spine-Health: How Yoga Helps the Back
- Exercise Physiology; William D. McArdle et al.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.