Does cycling or exercise in childhood increase your child’s height?

Does cycling or exercise in childhood increase your child’s height?

There are many parameters that can be used to map a child’s growth. When it comes to formal assessment or tracking of growth of a child, your doctor is more concerned about the child’s height and not his weight. The number one reason is 

Height is a predictor of long term nutritional status of the child. 

Since the newborn days, you would remember the doctor would take various measurements like the weight, length/height, head circumference, mid-arm circumference (MAC) and then he would plot these against time (age of the baby) on a graph. This would give the doctor a clear idea of the baby’s growth over a period of time. Many interventions are available like “growth hormone therapy” that can help augment the height of a child with slow growth velocity.

Benefits of tracking your child’s growth.

  • It helps us understand the nutritional status of the child.
  • It gives an idea about how fast or slow the child is growing.
  • It helps identify growth restrictions which if major, then can be corrected.
  • Conditions like PEM protein-energy malnutrition that are so common in our country, can be identified with just a few measurements.
  • Early interventions can help i1- identify and avert many nutritional deficiencies, growth restriction following illness, short stature.

Growth patterns seen in children

Most healthy children have a height, weight, and head circumference within the normal range and when plotted their growth pattern forms a smooth curve that we refer to as the “growth curve”. It is very important to track your child’s growth so short stature can be caught well in time. Therefore all the measurements of sizes fall between +2 and -2 lines and the growth curves have followed and not crossed more than one line. This is the most common growth pattern. 

Here are a few other growth patterns that are seen in kids:

1- Large-for-age

2- Wasted

3- Growth faltering

4- Stunting

5- Overweight

All of these growth patterns may be due to nutritional deficiencies, prematurity, genetic conditions, social causes like poor financial status, child abuse, etc. so any child who doesn’t have an average growth pattern should be looked at and the causes should be identified too.

How to increase your child’s height?

If you wish to increase your child’s height, understand that you can only help him/her reach his predicted height as per the genetic potential. You cannot add a few cm to their height unless they are wearing shoes with heels. There are a few factors that affect child growth and a few can be controlled. While others like the environment or the sex of the child are beyond our control.

1- Heredity: this factor determines a large number of physical traits of the childlike the height, the colour of the eyes, texture of hair, weight, body structure, etc. worth noting here is, it’s not just the physical traits but also the diseases can be passed on through genes. 

For eg if someone has a history of hypertension or diabetes in their maternal side then there is a chance that the gene will be transferred to him/her. Now how the gene expresses itself i.e. gets manifested or not, will depend on the environmental factors. So just the presence of good or bad genes doesn’t ensure that quality. Its expression is variable and depends upon the child’s atmosphere, his nurturing, and his health status.

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2- Environment: there are two aspects in the environment when it comes to child-rearing- physical and psychological. Both of these deeply influence a child’s health, nutrition and growth. A well-nurtured child will definitely be healthy than a deprived one. The kind of stimulation the child is receiving in his early years of childhood, the geographical area he hails from, the peers he hangs out with, all contribute to determining the child’s overall health.

3- Sex: boys generally grow taller than girls. While girls mature earlier than boys nearing adolescence. Boys on the other hand mature over a longer period of time. Their bodies also have different growth patterns. 

4- Exercise and health: when I talk about exercise it’s not the daily routine one but the playtime, running, sports or jumping around that kids usually engage in, which is appropriate for their age. That alone suffices to help a child grow muscular strength.

Apart from that exercise or engaging in physical activity does have other benefits, prime being it will help your child grow in height and reach his full genetic potential. As these activities are to be performed when the growing end of the bones have not fused yet, they will help in reaching your target height better.

Any kind of physical activity like cycling, exercise, swimming, jogging, in the early childhood early helps in strengthening the immune system. More so when kids play outside and are exposed to germs that help in developing immunity against them. 

5- Hormones: help in managing different functions of the body. These hormones affect things like the height, development of secondary sexual characters, sexual organs in girls and boys, etc. The time of puberty is when a child’s body prepares to transform into an adult. When puberty hits, is a deciding factor in the final height of the child.

6- Nutrition: good food that consists of all the food groups is called a  balanced diet. This plays an important role in the final height of the child. The meal might not be fancy, laden with dry fruits and salads. But a whole meal consisting of dal, rice, a protein in the form of pulses, eggs or meat, ghee as a source of fat and fresh fruits will also suffice.

8- Geographic influence: people from states(1) like Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Assam have short stature and that is primarily due to the geographic influence on their final heights.

9- Socio-economic status: Conditions like PEM (Protein-energy malnutrition), scurvy, beriberi are conditions that occur due to deficiency of nutrients in the diet. It is very common in the low socio-economic strata of our society which faces food scarcity frequently. It is also common in other states where children are fussy eaters. Iron deficiency anaemia is one such condition that is commonly seen in fussy eaters. 

Now that you know about all the factors that affect the growth and height of your child, controlling them becomes easier. Exercise, cycling does have a positive effect on your child’s growth but their absence doesn’t mean your child will turn out to be short in height 



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If you wish to get a consultation with dr. Alok then he runs Clinics which deal with hormonal problems in children and adolescents in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane.

  • T2T Hormone Clinics India Private Limited, Andheri 
  • Apollo Hospital Navi Mumbai 
  • Sparsh Children’s Hospital, Parel 
  • Colours Children’s Hospital, Navi Mumbai 
  • Mala Children’s Hospital, Thane 

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This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. ujjwal mishra

    This is very well researched post about kids and their height. you have covered many aspects from geography to nutrition. will share you post with more mothers.

  2. Rakhi Jayashankar

    All these ads have changed the way we perceive child growth. A child gaining height has several factors. Mostly we fail to see through the real reasons. You post points out everything in detail.

  3. The Champa Tree

    This is a comprehensive account of how child growth is regulated. We always have the notion that certain supplements will help in increasing the height of the child but your post has every factor covered and helps in removing the wrong ideas in moms’ mind.

  4. Outset Books

    I started cycling at the age of 7 and my brother doesn’t even know how to cycle. He is taller than me.. As you said without the other factors coming together cycling alone can do any good.

  5. Dr. Surbhi Prapanna

    Great pointers and yes all sorts of physical activities offer great benefits for our kids development. we love cycling as a family and go for it at least 3-4 times in a week. I am glad to know that it has a positive effect on height too.

  6. Ruchie

    Yes!! the other day I read that exercise and hormones plays very important role in kids height, I am glad you shared this article!!

  7. Sweetannu

    I think all parents who are concerned about the growth of their kids should read this article. Sometimes their worries are baseless and not realistic. Some facts I needed to know got clearer after reading your post.

  8. Varsh

    Heredity and good nutrition play a big role in height, I feel. I’m not tall but both my kids have taken after their Dad. Important is to make sure that kids get good exercise too so they can reach their full potential.

  9. Neha

    These are some interesting insights into height. A country that is obsessed with weight of a child, height can be overlooked or factored for genes. This article gives a better perspective.

  10. TripleAmommy

    Very useful article. Quick question. If we were to compare genetic code of an individual to nutrition and exercise, which is a bigger determinant of height?

  11. myworldwitheira

    My daughter just does not like cycling. It’s odd for a child her age but she is active in other stuff so I’m ok with her choices. Those are some great insights on your blog and very helpful for parents while answering a lot of questions.

  12. Neha Sharma

    Very well written and explained. I have seen many parents asking for tips and tricks to magically increase their child’s height, some have even asked for medicines in the facebook groups. They should read this informative article to clear their doubts about growth parameters.

  13. Metamorphosis

    So cycling or any kind of excercise does have an impact on child’s immune system which in turn helps in their overall growth. Good to hear that. These are some great insights and very informative post. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Harjeet Kaur

    This a very detailed post. Actually laymen always think that cycling can increase height. But as you have rightly pointed out..there are so many factors that give you height .

  15. jhilmildsaha

    This is a very important topic you have discussed. We should consider letting our kids take up more physical activities. Also its necessary to track their growth pattern.

  16. Growth of height is much discussed topics of the parents and all have their own set of notions. The pointers coming from you breaks many myths around it. The post is definitely going to help many parents understand the right parameters of height.

    1. Dr. Rahat Sayyad

      Yes height is one factor that is riddled with myths around it

  17. TheMomSagas

    As parents we are always worried about the height and weight growth in our kids. This post is super informative in terms of what factors to look out for.

  18. mummatalks

    Yes the growth of child is based on many factors like you rightly mentioned. Eating nutritious food and being physically active in sports can surely help for a better growth in a child.

  19. Amritha Srinath

    What an excellent post Dr. Rahat

    We worry so much about our children’s growth, especially with the height of our kids. It’s important to understand the parameters and in your post you have mentioned them so accurately. Thanks for the share.

  20. preetjyotkaur

    A child’s growth is something that every parent worries about. Understanding the parameters can really help us map out a perfect health and nutrition plan for them.

  21. Judy Morris

    Thanks for this insightful article. I am always worried about my childs growth. these pointer about child’s height brought much clarity to my thoughts. Heredity certainly plays a major factor.

  22. Ishieta

    We grew up being told that the more we jumped the taller we would get! imagine now to read this and realise that i would have been just as tall no matter what! interesting information – and i agree how overall nutrition is the most important.

    1. Dr. Rahat Sayyad

      Ha ha same here. Its of course great if kids are exercising which boosts their immunity and general health but making them do it just so it boosts their height would be unfair.

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