Why Longevity Researchers Care About Your Sitting Height

This Measurement Is More Important Than You Think

two old men sitting on park bench
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Among all the anthropometric measurements, like body weight and waist circumference, that are of interest in longitudinal research, did you know that how tall you are while sitting is also considered relevant to your longevity?

Greater sitting height, relative to standing height, compares your leg length with that of your torso. Greater leg length has been linked with lower incidence of heart disease and diabetes in Western populations, though its relevance as a metric among other ethnicities is less clear.

Why would longer legs indicate anything about your chances of getting age-related illnesses? As described in a 2007 paper published in the American Journal of Public Health, most leg growth occurs prior to puberty. Greater leg length therefore suggests better childhood nutrition and fewer respiratory infections, and as a result better health in adulthood. The study cites previous research showing longer leg length as a component of height linked with less diabetes, lower blood pressure and a lower chance of heart disease in general.

Shorter leg length is often indicative of cardiovascular risk, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and hypertension.

What Are Anthropometric Measurements?

Anthropometry is the study of the measurements and proportions of the human body in terms of the dimensions of bone, muscle and adipose (fat) tissue. These dimensions are particularly important as they influence health as we age.

Fat tissue plays an especially important role because, when present in large amounts, it poses an increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, gallstones, cancer and other health issues. Anthropometric measurements include the following:

  • Height when standing
  • Height when sitting
  • Weight
  • Leg length
  • Waist circumference
  • Waist to hip ratio
  • Waist to height ratio
  • BMI (Body Mass Index)
  • Grip strength

How to Measure Sitting Height

Sitting height is a measurement of the torso taken from the highest point of the head to the sitting surface. To get the most accurate measurement possible, have someone else measure you. Sit on a stool pushed up against a wall. Instead of tilting your head up, keep your head straight. There should be an invisible straight line that runs through your ear canal opening to your eyes.

Have someone mark the height of the stool on the wall. Instead of using a ruler to mark the top of the head, use a hardcover book or something sturdy with a 90 degree angle on top of the head, perpendicular to the wall. Measure the distance between the two markings with a measuring tape. Repeat this process a few more times to get an even more accurate measurement.

Importance of Anthropometric Measurements

The advantage of anthropometric measurements is that they provide completely objective, evidence-based results. The researchers who study the measurements are unable to apply their own opinions and biases, which is particularly advantageous when researching the risk factors and age-related illnesses related to anthropometric measurements.

Read more: Other simple ways to test your longevity


C. Mary Schooling, Chaoqiang Jiang, Tai Hing Lam, G. Neil Thomas, Michelle Heys, Xiangqian Lao,Weisen Zhang, Peymane Adab, Kar Keung Cheng, and Gabriel M. Leung. "Height, Its Components, and Cardiovascular Risk Among Older Chinese: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study." Am J Public Health. 2007 October; 97(10): 1834–1841.



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