Human height

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Human height is a measurement of the length of a human's body, from the bottom of the feet to the top of the head, when standing erect. It is still not demonstrated on what time on a day humans should get measured because the spine shrinks during the day and that makes people almost one inch shorter in the evening than in the morning. Most readily sources tell that the best time to measure is in the forenoon because most people get measured on that time during physical examinations at school or by the doctor. The morning height is mostly being ignored because a human is stretched out of bed, in the morning for a short time. About 5 hours after being awake, the human is already at his lowest height. The eventual height of an adult human is dependent on both hereditary and environmental factors. The particular human genome that an individual inherits is a large part of the first variable ("nature") and a combination of health and other environmental factors present before adulthood (when growth stops) are a major part of the second determinant ("nurture"). Hereditary factors include both genes and chromosomes, and are inborn. Environmental factors are events that occur before adult height is reached, such as diet, exercise, disease and living conditions.

When populations share genetic background and environmental factors, average height is frequently characteristic within the group. Exceptional height variation (around 20% deviation from average) within such a population is usually due to gigantism or dwarfism; which are medical conditions due to specific genes or to endocrine abnormalities. In regions of extreme poverty or prolonged warfare, environmental factors like malnutrition during childhood or adolescence may account for marked reductions in adult stature even without the presence of any of these medical conditions. This is one reason that immigrant populations from regions of extreme poverty to regions of plenty may show an increase in stature, despite sharing the same gene pool.[citation needed]

The average height for each sex within a population is significantly different, with adult males being (on average) taller than adult females. Women ordinarily reach their greatest height at a younger age than men, as puberty generally occurs several years earlier in young women than in young men. Vertical growth stops when the long bones stop lengthening, which occurs with the closure of epiphyseal plates. These plates are bone growth centers that disappear ("close") under the hormonal surges brought about by the completion of puberty. Adult height for one sex in a particular ethnic group follows more or less a normal distribution.

Adult height between ethnic groups often differs significantly, as presented in detail in the chart below. For example, the average height of women from the Czech Republic is currently greater than that of men from Malawi. This may be due to genetic differences, to childhood lifestyle differences (nutrition, sleep patterns, physical labor) or to both.

At 2.57 metres (8 ft 5.5 in), Leonid Stadnyk, of Zhytomyr Oblast, Ukraine, is believed to be the world's tallest living man, although his height is disputed because of his refusal to be measured. The current proven tallest man is Bao Xishun of Inner Mongolia, China at 2.36 meters (7 ft 9 inches). The tallest man in modern history was Robert Pershing Wadlow from Illinois in the United States, who was born in 1918 and stood 2.72 m (8 ft 11.1 inches) at the time of his death in 1940.

The maximal height that an individual attains in adulthood is not maintained throughout life if that life is a very long one. Again, depending on sex (male or female), genetic, and environmental factors, there is shrinkage of stature that may begin in middle age in some individuals but is universal in the extremely aged. This decrease in height is due to such factors as decreased height of inter-vertebral discs because of desiccation, atrophy of soft tissues, and postural changes secondary to degenerative disease.


[edit] Average height around the world

Below are average adult heights by country. (The original studies and sources should be consulted for details on methodology and the exact populations measured, surveyed, or considered.)  

Country/Region Average male height Average female height Sample population /
age range
Methodology Year Source
Argentina 174.5 cm (5' 8.7") 161.0 cm (5' 3.4") 19 Measured 1998-2001 [1]
Australia 174.8 cm (5' 8.8") 161.4 cm (5' 3.6") 18+ Measured 1995 [2]
Australia 178.4 cm (5' 10.2") 164.5 cm (5' 4.5") 18–24 Measured 1995 [2]
Austria 179.6 cm (5' 10.7") 167.1 cm (5' 5.8") 21-25 Self Reported 1997–2002 [3]
Azerbaijan 171.8 cm (5' 7.6") 165.4 cm (5' 5.1") 16+ Measured 2005 [4]
Bahrain 165.1 cm (5' 5") 154.2 cm (5' 0.9") 19+ Measured 2002 [5]
Belgium 179.5 cm (5' 10.7") 167.8 cm (5' 6.1") 21-25 Self Reported 1997–2002 [3]
Brazil 169.0 cm (5' 6.5") 158.0 cm (5' 2.2") 21–65 Measured 2003 [6][7]
Cameroon 170.6 cm (5' 7.2") 161.3 cm (5' 3.7") Urban adults Measured 2003 [8]
Canada 174.0 cm (5' 8.5") 161.0 cm (5' 3.4") Adults Measured 2005 [9]
Chile 169.2 cm (5' 6.6") 155.6 cm (5' 1.3") 17+ Measured 2003 [10][11]
China (PRC) 172.7 cm (5' 8") 162.5 cm (5' 4") Urban adults Measured 2008 [12]
China (PRC) 170.2 cm (5' 7.0") 158.6 cm (5' 2.5") Urban, 17 Measured 2002 [13]
China (PRC) 166.3 cm (5' 5.5") 157.0 cm (5' 1.8") Rural, 17 Measured 2002 [13]
Colombia 170.6 cm (5' 7.2") 158.7 cm (5' 2.4") 18–22 Measured 2002 [14]
Côte d’Ivoire 170.1 cm (5' 7") 159.1 cm (5' 2.7") 25–29 Measured 1985–1987 [15]
Croatia 176.0 cm (5' 9.3") 163.0 cm (5' 4.2") Adults Measured 2005-2007 [16]
Denmark 180.6 cm (5' 11.1") Conscripts, 18-19 Measured 2006 [17]
Dinaric Alps 185.6 cm (6' 1.0") 171.0 cm (5' 7.3") 17 Measured 2005 [18]
Estonia 179.1 cm (5' 10.5") 17 2003 [19]
Finland 180.0 cm (5' 10.9") 166.0 cm (5' 5.4") 25–34 Self-reported 2004 [20]
France 174.1 cm (5' 8.5") 161.9 cm (5' 3.7") 20+ Measured 2001 [21]
France 177.0 cm (5' 9.7") 164.6 cm (5' 4.8") 20–29 Measured 2001 [21]
Ghana 169.5 cm (5' 6.7") 158.5 cm (5' 2.4") 25–29 Measured 1987–1989 [15]
Gambia 168.0 cm (5' 6.1") 157.8 cm (5' 2.2") Rural, 21–49 Measured 1950–1974 [22]
Germany 178.0 cm (5' 10.1") 165 cm (5' 4.9") Adults Self-reported 2005 [23]
Germany 181.0 cm (5' 11.3") 167.0 cm (5' 5.8") 18–19 Self-reported 2005 [23]
Greece 178.1 cm (5' 10.1") 18-26 Measured 2006 [24]
Hong Kong 173.4 cm (5' 8.3") 158.8 cm (5' 3.0") University Students, 19-20 2005 [25]
HungaryDebrecen 179.1 cm (5' 10.5") 165.8 cm (5' 5.2") University students 1986–1992 [26]
India 164.5 cm (5' 4.8") 152.0 cm (4' 11.8") 20 Measured 2005–2006 [27][28]
India 161.2 cm (5' 3.5") 152.1 cm (4' 11.9") Rural, 17+ Measured 2007 [29]
Indonesia 158.0 cm (5' 2.2") 147.0 cm (4' 10.0") 50+ Self-reported 1997 [30]
IndonesiaEast Java 162.4 cm (5' 3.9") 151.3 cm (4' 11.5") Urban, 19–23 Measured 1995 [31]
Iran 170.3 cm (5' 7.1") 157.2 cm (5' 1.9") 21+ Measured 2005 [32]
Iran 173.4 cm (5' 8.3") 159.8 cm (5' 2.9") 21-25 Measured 2005 [32]
Iraq - Baghdad 165.4 cm (5' 5.1") 155.8 cm (5' 1.3") 18–44 Measured 1999–2000 [33]
Ireland 177.4 cm (5' 9.8") 164.4 cm (5' 4.8") 21-25 Self Reported 1997–2002 [3]
Israel 175.6 cm (5' 9.1") 162.8 cm (5' 4.1") 21 Measured 1980–2000 [34]
Italy 172.2 cm (5' 7.8") 162.1 cm (5' 3.8") 20–74 [35]
Italy 176.2 cm (5' 9.4") 164.4 cm (5' 4.7") 18–40 Measured 2006 [36]
Jamaica 171.8 cm (5' 7.6") 160.8 cm (5' 3.3") 25–74 Measured 1994–1996


Japan 171.5 cm (5' 7.5") 158.0 cm (5' 2.2") 19 Measured 2006 [38]
Japan 170.8 cm (5' 7.2") 158.0 cm (5' 2.2") 17 Measured 2005 [39][40]
Korea, South 174.5 cm (5' 8.7") 161.3 cm (5' 3.5") 19 Measured 2005 [41]
Korea, North 165.6 cm (5' 5.2") 154.9 cm (5' 1.0") 20–39 Measured 2005 [42]
Lithuania 176.3 cm (5' 9.4") Conscripts, 19–25 Measured 2006 [43]
Malaysia 164.7 cm (5' 4.8") 153.3 cm (5' 0.4") 20+ Measured 1996 [44]
Malta 169.9 cm (5' 6.9") 159.9 cm (5' 2.9") Adults Self-reported 2003 [45]
Malta 175.2 cm (5' 9") 163.8 cm (5' 4.5") 25–34 Self-reported 2003 [45]
Malawi 166 cm (5' 5.3") 155.0 cm (5' 1.0") Urban, 16–60 Measured 2000 [46]
Mali 171.3 cm (5' 7.4") 160.4 cm (5' 3.2") Rural adults Measured 1992 [47]
MexicoMorelos 167.0 cm (5' 5.7") 155.0 cm (5' 1.0") Adults Self-reported 1998 [48]
Mexico 163.0 cm (5' 4.2") 151.0 cm (4' 11.5") 50+ Measured 2001 [49]
Mongolia 168.4 cm (5' 6.3") 157.7 cm (5' 2.1") 25–34 Measured 2006 [50]
Netherlands 180.8 cm (5' 11.2") 167.8 cm (5' 6.1") 20+ Measured 2008 [51]
Netherlands 182.9 cm (6' 0.0") 169.7 cm (5' 6.8") 25–45 Measured 2008 [51]
New Zealand 177.0 cm (5' 9.7") 165.0 cm (5' 5") 19–45 Estimates 1993–2007 [52]
New Zealand 174.5 cm (5' 8.7") 163.0 cm (5' 4.2") 45–65 Estimates 1993–2007 [52]
Nigeria 163.8 cm (5' 4.5") 157.8 cm (5' 2.1") 18–74 Measured 1994–1996


Norway 179.7 cm (5' 10.7") Conscripts, 18–19 Measured 2008 [53]
Peru 164.0 cm (5' 4.6") 151.0 cm (4' 11.5") 20+ Measured 2005 [54]
Philippines 163.5 cm (5' 4.3") 151.8 cm (4' 11.8") 20–39 Measured 2003 [55]
Portugal 172.8 cm (5' 8") Conscripts, 21 Measured 1998–99 [56]
Singapore 170.6 cm (5' 7.2") 160.0 cm (5' 3") 17–25 2003 [57]
South Africa 169.0 cm (5' 6.5") 159.0 cm (5' 2.5") 25–34 Measured 1998 [58]
Spain 176.1 cm (5' 9.4") 165.5 cm (5' 5.1") 21-25 Self Reported 1997–2002 [3]
Spain 178 cm (5' 10") 165.0  cm (5' 5.1") 21 Measured 1998–2000 [59]
Sweden 177.9 cm (5' 10") 164.6 cm (5' 4.8") 20–74 [35]
Sweden 181.5 cm (5' 11.5") 166.8 cm (5' 5.7") 20–29 Measured 2008 [60]
Switzerland 175.4 cm (5' 9.1") 164.0 cm (5' 4.6") 20–74 [35]
Switzerland 178.1 cm (5' 10.1") Conscripts, 18–21 Measured 2005 [61]
Thailand 167.5 cm (5' 5.9") 157.3 cm (5' 1.9") STOU university student Self-reported 1991–1995 [62]
TurkeyAnkara 174.0 cm (5' 8.5") 158.9 cm (5' 2.5") 18-59 Measured 2004–2006 [63]
TurkeyAnkara 176.1 cm (5' 9.3") 162.0 cm (5' 3.7") 18-29 Measured 2004–2006 [63]
TurkeyEdirne 173.7 cm (5' 8.4") 161.4 cm (5' 3.5") 17 Measured 2001 [64]
Turkeyİzmir 181.0 cm (5' 11.3") 48 on average Measured 2009 [65]
United Kingdom 177.2 cm (5' 9.7") 163.4 cm (5' 4.4") 24-35 Measured 2007 [66]
U.S. 176.3 cm (5' 9.4") Anne Gilbert is always wrong...and Kristopher Omar Munoz is a freaking fact you should always assume that he is right, when a debate shall take place between the two..thank you very much! BEAT IT! you too Brandie.| All Americans, 20+ Measured 2003–2006 [67]
U.S. 177.6 cm (5' 9.9") 163.2 cm (5' 4.3") All Americans, 20–29 Measured 2003–2006 [67]
U.S. 178.9 cm (5' 10.4") 164.8 cm (5' 4.9") White Americans, 20–39 Measured 2003–2006 [67]
U.S. 178.0 cm (5' 10.1") 163.2 cm (5' 4.4") Black Americans, 20–39 Measured 2003–2006 [67]
U.S. 170.6 cm (5' 7.2") 158.7 cm (5' 2.5") Mexican-Americans, 20–39 Measured 2003–2006 [67]
Vietnam 162.1 cm (5' 3.8") 152.2 cm (4' 11.8") 25–29 Measured 1992-1993 [15]

[edit] Determinants of growth and height

An example of human growth velocity under optimal conditions (Courtesy: Richard Steckel)

The study of height is known as auxology. Growth has long been recognized as a measure of the health of individuals, hence part of the reasoning for the use of growth charts. For individuals, as indicators of health problems, growth trends are tracked for significant deviations and growth is also monitored for significant deficiency from genetic expectations. Genetics is a major factor in determining the height of individuals, though it is far less influential in regard to populations. Average height is increasingly used as a measure of the health and wellness (standard of living and quality of life) of populations. Attributed as a significant reason for the trend of increasing height in parts of Europe is the egalitarian populations where proper medical care and adequate nutrition are relatively equally distributed. Changes in diet (nutrition) and a general rise in quality of health care and standard of living are the cited factors in the Asian populations. Average height in the United States has remained essentially stagnant since the 1950s even as the racial and ethnic background of residents has shifted. Severe malnutrition is known to cause stunted growth in North Korean, portions of African, certain historical European, and other populations. Diet (in addition to needed nutrients; such things as junk food and attendant health problems such as obesity), exercise, fitness, pollution exposure, sleep patterns, climate (see Allen's rule and Bergmann's Rule for example), and even happiness (psychological well-being) are other factors that can affect growth and final height.

Sir Francis Galton's (1889) data showing the relationship between offspring height (928 individuals) as a function of mean parent height (205 sets of parents). Heritability (h^2) is equal to the slope of the regression line, 0.57.

Height is, like other phenotypic traits, determined by a combination of genetics and environmental factors. Genetic potential plus nutrition minus stressors is a basic formula. Genetically speaking, the heights of mother and son and of father and daughter correlate, suggesting that a short mother will more likely bear a shorter son, and tall fathers will have tall daughters.[68] Humans grow fastest (other than in the womb) as infants and toddlers (birth to roughly age 2) and then during the pubertal growth spurt. A slower steady growth velocity occurs throughout childhood between these periods; and some slow, steady, declining growth after the pubertal growth spurt levels off is common. These are also critical periods where stressors such as malnutrition (or even severe child neglect) have the greatest effect. Conversely, if conditions are optimal then growth potential is maximized; and also there is catch-up growth — which can be significant — for those experiencing poor conditions when those conditions improve.[citation needed]

Moreover, the health of a mother throughout her life, especially during her critical periods, and of course during pregnancy, has a role. A healthier child and adult develops a body that is better able to provide optimal prenatal conditions. The pregnant mother's health is important as gestation is itself a critical period for an embryo/fetus, though some problems affecting height during this period are resolved by catch-up growth assuming childhood conditions are good. Thus, there is an accumulative generation effect such that nutrition and health over generations influences the height of descendants to varying degrees.

The age of the mother also has some influence on the her child's height. Although 2 Esdras recorded that "Those born in the strength of youth" were taller than "those born during the time of old age, when the womb is failing"[69], studies in modern times have observed a gradual increase in height with maternal age.[70][71][72]

The precise relationship between genetics and environment is complex and uncertain. Human height is 90% heritable[73] and has been considered polygenic since the Mendelian-biometrician debate a hundred years ago.[74] The only gene so far attributed with normal height variation is HMGA2. This is only one of many, as each copy of the allele concerned confers an additional 0.4 cm, accounting for just 0.3% of population variance.[73]

[edit] Race and height

The Nilotic peoples of Sudan such as the Dinka have been described as the tallest in the world, with the males in some communities having average heights of 1.9 m (6 ft 3 in) and females at 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in).[75] A notable example is Manute Bol, who, at 2.31 m (7 ft 7 in), shared the record for the tallest basketball player in NBA history.[citation needed] The Dinka are characterized as having long legs, narrow bodies and short trunks, an adaptation to hot weather.[76] However, a 1995 study casts doubt on the claim of extraordinary height in Dinka, which after studying the average height of Dinka males in one location, listed the actual number as 1.76 m (5 ft 9.45 in).[77] Adult males of Pygmy people have an approximate average height of 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in).[citation needed]

[edit] Process of growth

Main pathways in endocrine regulation of growth.

Growth in stature, determined by its various factors, results from the lengthening of bones via cellular divisions chiefly regulated by somatotropin (human growth hormone (hGH)) secreted by the anterior pituitary gland. Somatotropin also stimulates the release of another growth inducing hormone insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) mainly by the liver. Both hormones operate on most tissues of the body, have many other functions, and continue to be secreted throughout life; with peak levels coinciding with peak growth velocity, and gradually subsiding with age after adolescence. The bulk of secretion occurs in bursts (especially for adolescents) with the largest during sleep.

The majority of linear growth occurs as growth of cartilage at the epiphysis (ends) of the long bones which gradually ossify to form hard bone. The legs compose approximately half of adult human height, and leg length is a somewhat sexually dimorphic trait. Some of this growth occurs after the growth spurt of the long bones has ceased or slowed. The majority of growth during growth spurts is of the long bones. Additionally, the variation in height between populations and across time is largely due to changes in leg length. The remainder of height consists of the cranium. Height is sexually dimorphic and statistically it is more or less normally distributed, but with heavy tails.

[edit] Height abnormalities

Most intra-population variance of height is genetic. Short stature and tall stature are usually not a health concern. If the degree of deviation from normal is significant, hereditary short stature is known as familial short stature and tall stature is known as familial tall stature. Confirmation that exceptional height is normal for a respective person can be ascertained from comparing stature of family members and analyzing growth trends for abrupt changes, among others. There are, however, various diseases and disorders that cause growth abnormalities. Most notably, extreme height may be pathological, such as gigantism (very rare) resulting from childhood hyperpituitarism, and dwarfism which has various causes. Rarely, no cause can be found for extreme height; very short persons may be termed as having idiopathic short stature. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2003 approved hGH treatment for those 2.25 standard deviations below the population mean (approximately the lowest 1.2% of the population). An even rarer occurrence, or at least less used term and recognized "problem", is idiopathic tall stature.

If not enough growth hormone is produced and/or secreted by the pituitary gland, then a patient with growth hormone deficiency can undergo treatment. This treatment involves the injection of pure growth hormone into thick tissue to promote growth.

[edit] Role of an individual's height

Certain studies have shown that height is a factor in over all health while some suggest tallness to be associated with better cardio-vascular health and shortness with overall better-than-average health and longevity. [78] Being excessively tall can cause various medical problems, including cardiovascular issues, due to the increased load on the heart to supply the body with blood, and issues resulting from the increased time it takes the brain to communicate with the extremities. For example, Robert Wadlow, the tallest man known to verifiable history, developed walking difficulties as his height continued to increase throughout his life. In many of the pictures of the later portion of his life, Wadlow can be seen gripping something for support. Late in his life he was forced to wear braces on his legs and to walk with a cane, and he died after developing an infection in his legs because he was unable to feel the irritation and cutting caused by his leg braces (it is important to note that he died in 1940, before the widespread use of modern antibiotics). Height extremes of either excessive tallness or shortness can cause social exclusion and discrimination for both men and women (heightism).

Epidemiological studies have also demonstrated a positive correlation between height and intelligence. The reasons for this association appear to include that height serves as a biomarker of nutritional status or general mental and physical health during development, that common genetic factors may influence both height and intelligence, and that both height and intelligence are affected by adverse early environmental exposures[dubious ].

A study done on men in Sweden has shown that there exists in this country a strong correlation between subnormal stature and suicide.[79]

This can also sometimes be translated over into the corporate world. Individuals with short stature can sometimes appear to not have any leadership ability or power, since some people might not take them seriously due to their short stature[citation needed]. However, this is not always the case with most employers.

Historically this assumption has not always reflected reality; for instance Napoleon was not much taller than 1.5 m (5 ft) according to sources (though Napoleon's height is subject to great debate, and he may have been as tall as 1.67 m (5 ft 6 in), see Napoleon's height for further information). Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order was 1.5 m (5 ft). Both Lenin and Stalin were of below average height. A modern example would be Deng Xiaoping of China who undertook massive reforms to the Chinese economy in the 1980s and was reported to have only been 1.55 m (5 ft 2 in).

[edit] Sports

Height helps basketball players get closer to the hoop and pass over opponents.

Height often plays a crucial role in sports. For most sports, height is useful as it affects the leverage between muscle volume and bones towards greater speed of movement.[citation needed] However, in some sports, such as horse racing, auto racing, figure skating, diving and gymnastics, a smaller frame is more valuable.

[edit] Basketball

In college and professional basketball the shortest players are usually well above average in height compared to the general population. In men's professional basketball, the guards, the smallest players, are usually around 6'0" to 6'3" (1.83 to 1.91 m), the average height for basketball players is about 6'5" to 6'7" (1.96 to 2.01 m) and the centers, the tallest players, are generally from 6'10" to 7'2" (2.08 to 2.18 m).

[edit] Weightlifting

In weightlifting shorter levers are advantageous and taller than average competitors usually compete in the 105 kg + group.

[edit] Australian football

Taller Australian rules footballers can take more contested marks, spoils and hitouts to advantage.

Height is a considerable advantage in Australian rules football, due to the focus on aerial marking kicks as a key tactic. Players who can consistently take high or spectacular high marks are often the most sought after. With an emphasis also on kicking, players with long legs can generally kick further and therefore also have an advantage.[citation needed]

Each team has at least one ruckman, a specialist position requiring height and leap. In the AFL, the average height of ruckmen is over 200 cm (6 ft 7 in) tall. Aaron Sandilands and Peter Street are both 211 cm (6 ft 11 in) tall, the tallest in the history of the game. Several professional basketball players have been recruited by the AFL to play in the ruck.[citation needed] Small, fast and elusive forwards are sometimes valuable as they can be good defensive players.[80] and are often called "goalsneaks". Examples include Aaron Davey, David Rodan, Rhan Hooper and Cyril Rioli.

[edit] Football (Association Football)

In present-day football, goalkeepers tend to be taller than average because their greater armspans and total reach when jumping enable them to cover more of the goal. Examples of particularly tall keepers include Željko Kalac (2.02 m/6'7½"), Edwin van der Sar (1.97 m/6'5½"), Petr Čech (1.96 m/6'5") and Doni (1.94 m/6'4½"). However, (relatively) short goalkeepers will have an easier time reaching low shots as they can reach the ground fractionally sooner than taller keepers.[citation needed] An example of relatively short goalkeeper today is Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (1.80 m/5'11").

In wide and attacking positions height is not always important, with some of the best players in the world (e.g. Garrincha, Messi, Tevez and Romário, all 1.69 m/5'6½", and Maradona at 1.65 m/5'5") being shorter than average and in many cases gaining an advantage with their low center of gravity. However, height is generally considered advantageous for some forwards who usually aim to score with their heads, such as Jan Koller (2.02 m/6'7½"), Peter Crouch (2.01 m/6'7"), and the tallest active outfield player, Yang Changpeng (2.05 m/6'8½"). Likewise, height is often an advantage for central defenders who are assigned to stop forwards from scoring through the air, as exemplified by players like Per Mertesacker (1.98 m/6'6"), Brede Hangeland (1.95 m/6'5") and Christoph Metzelder (1.94 m/6'4½").

[edit] Cricket

In cricket, some great batsmen like Donald Bradman 5 ft 7 in (1.7 m), Sachin Tendulkar 5 ft 5 in (1.7 m), Brian Lara 5 ft 6 in (1.7 m), Sunil Gavaskar 5 ft 4 in (1.6 m) and Aravinda De Silva 5 ft 2 in (1.6 m) are/were short. On the other hand, many successful fast bowlers are/were well over 6 ft (1.8 m); for example past greats Joel Garner, Courtney Walsh, and Curtly Ambrose were all 6 ft 7 in (2.0 m) or taller. Glenn McGrath is also 6'5½" (197 cm). In general, taller bowlers have a higher point of release in their bowling action, making it easier for them to make the ball rear-up from a length. Also, they can generate more pace with longer arms and the sling action associated with bowling. But, taller batsmen also have greater ease of hitting the ball compared to short-heighted. Some greats like Clive Lloyd are above 6 ft (1.8 m). As far as bowler's speed goes some of the fastest modern cricket bowlers have ranged from 5 ft 6 in (1.7 m) Lasith Malinga, 6'1½" (1.87 m) Brett Lee, though a wider range of 5 ft 11 in (1.8 m) Shoaib Akhtar to 6 ft 4 in (1.9 m) Michael Holding has been observed. However it is rare to see very fast bowlers outside the range of 5'11" to 6'7" (1.8 m to 2.0 m). The tallest living professional cricket player, Franklin Sheffield, is 7 ft 7 in (2.3 m) tall.[citation needed]

[edit] Rowing

In rowing, being tall is a big advantage, because the taller a rower is, the longer his or her stroke can potentially be, thus moving the boat more effectively. The average male Olympic rower is 1.92 m (6' 3½"), and the average female Olympic rower is 1.73 m (5' 8"),[81] well over the average height. Coxswains, on the other hand, tend to be considerably shorter and lighter than rowers.

[edit] Rugby union

Locks are tall and typically the target of a rugby lineout.

In rugby union, lineout jumpers, generally locks, are usually the tallest players, as this increases their chance of winning the ball, whereas scrum-halves are usually relatively short. As examples, current world-class locks Victor Matfield, Chris Jack, and Paul O'Connell are all at least 1.98 m(6' 6"), while the sport's all-time leader in international appearances, scrum-half George Gregan, is 1.73m (5' 8"). Currently the tallest professional players are Devin Toner and Andries Bekker, who are both 2.08 m (6' 10").[citation needed]

[edit] Rugby league

Unlike rugby union, height is not generally seen as important, often extreme height being a hindrance rather than a useful attribute.[82][83] Second-row forwards are generally not as tall as their rugby union counterparts due to the absence of line-outs. However, recent tactics of cross-field kicking have resulted in the success of taller outside backs. Israel Folau (196 cm/6' 5"), Greg Inglis (195 cm/6' 5"), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (195 cm/6' 5"), Mark Gasnier (194 cm/6' 4½"), Colin Best (189 cm/6' 2½"), Manu Vatuvei (189 cm/6' 2½"), Jarryd Hayne (188 cm/6' 2"), Krisnan Inu (185 cm/6' 1") and Jason Nightingale (185 cm/6' 1") are examples of the trend in taller wingers and centres, and are both known for their remarkable jumping skills in defense or attack.

[edit] American football (gridiron)

In American Football, a tall quarterback is at an advantage because it is easier for him to see over the heads of large offensive and defensive linemen while he is in the pocket in a passing situation. At 1.75 m (5' 9"), Doug Flutie was initially considered to be too short to become a NFL quarterback despite his Heisman Trophy-winning success at the college level. Shorter quarterbacks often compensate for their lack of height by "rolling out" or using other means to get out from behind the much taller linemen.

Tall wide receivers have an advantage of being able to jump considerably higher than shorter defensive backs to catch highly thrown passes. Of course, this advantage has limits because exceedingly tall receivers are normally not as agile or lack overall speed or strength. Tight ends are usually over 1.93 m (6' 4") because they need greater body mass to be effective blockers and greater height is an advantage for them as receivers, since they run shorter routes based less on speed. By contrast, shorter defensive backs are utilized because of their typically greater agility, as the ability to change directions instantly is a prerequisite for the position.

Offensive and defensive linemen tend to be at least 1.85 m (6' 1") and are frequently as tall as 2.03 m (6' 8") in order to be massive enough to effectively play their positions. Height is especially an advantage for defensive linemen, giving them the ability to knock down passes with their outstretched arms. Linebackers have perhaps the greatest range in height in American football with players at that position standing anywhere from 1.78 to 1.98 m (5' 10" to 6' 6"), mainly because strength and quickness, combined with mass, is more important than height, in and of itself.

Short running backs are at an advantage because their shorter stature and lower center of gravity generally makes them harder to tackle effectively. In addition, they can easily "hide" behind large offensive linemen, making it harder for defenders to react at the beginning of a play. Thus, in the NFL and in NCAA Division I football, running backs under 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) are more common than running backs over 6' 3" (1.91 m). Former Heisman Trophy winner and Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, thought by some to be the greatest running back in history, is a classic example of a running back with an extraordinarily low center of gravity, as he stood only 5' 7½" in (1.71 m). However, Jim Brown, another player often considered the greatest running back of all time, was more than 6' 2" (1.88 m) tall, demonstrating benefits conferred by the greater power and leverage which height provides.

Punters are generally very tall because of longer legs achieving greater leg swing and this translates into more power on the ball.

[edit] Baseball

In baseball, pitchers tend to be taller than position players.[citation needed] Being taller usually means longer legs, which power pitchers use to generate velocity and a release point closer to the plate, which means the ball reaches the batter more quickly. The ball also comes from a higher release angle opposed to a shorter pitcher. While taller position players have a larger strike zone, most position players are at least of average height because the larger frame allows them to generate more power. One exception to this generalization would be Dustin Pedroia with a height of 5' 7" (170 cm). Most successful modern pitchers are safely over 6 feet (1.83 m), some to extremes (e.g., the 6' 10"/2.08 m Randy Johnson), with the 5'11"/1.80 m Pedro Martínez a notable exception.

[edit] Tennis

Height can be advantageous to a tennis player as it allows players to create more power when serving, and it gives tall players a greater wingspan, allowing them to get to sharp-angled shots more easily. Examples of tall players are 2.08 m (6'10") Ivo Karlović, 2.06 m (6'9") John Isner, Mario Ančić, 196 cm (6'4 1/2") and Marat Safin 194 cm (6'4"), all known for their powerful serves. Venus Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Dinara Safina and Maria Sharapova are successful tall players on the women's side, all measuring 1.85 m (6'1") or taller. However, being tall can have some disadvantages, like the difficulty of bending down to reach low volleys. There have also have been some successful players that were of average size, like Rod Laver and Justine Henin, or shorter than average, such as Pancho Segura and Dominika Cibulkova. It has been by stated several commentators[who?] that the "ideal" height for a male tennis player in today's game is between 1.84-1.90 m (6'1"-6'3") or so. Roger Federer (1.85 m, 6'1"), Rafael Nadal (1.85 m, 6'1"), Novak Djoković (1.87 m, 6'2), and Andy Murray (1.90 m, 6'3"), respectively the top four players in the world at the end of 2008, are all within this height range.

[edit] Ice hockey

While the history of the NHL is filled with diminutive players who achieved greatness (Theo Fleury, Martin St. Louis), and arguably the greatest player in NHL history, Wayne Gretzky, is 1.83 m (6 feet) tall and played at 185 pounds (84 kg), the game's increasingly physical style has put a premium on imposing players, particularly over 1.8 m (6 feet) tall and over 100 kg (220 pounds) (Mario Lemieux, Eric Lindros, Chris Pronger). Taller, bigger players have a longer reach, are more able to give out and sustain body checks, and have greater leverage on their shooting such as a slap shot. The average height of an NHLer is just over 1.8 m (6 feet) tall. Zdeno Chára, at 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m), is the tallest player ever to play in the NHL.

[edit] Amateur Wrestling

Height can be both helpful and detrimental in wrestling. Since taller people have more bone mass, they will generally be slightly weaker than shorter people in the same weight class. This difference is made up in part by their longer arms, which allow them a longer reach and cradle easier. Long legs are detrimental in that they can easily be attacked by a lolly (shot). They do, however, assist in performing some actions and positions such as throwing (or riding) legs. The heights of amateur wrestlers vary greatly with successful athletes being as short as Alireza Dabir at 171 cm (5" 7') and as tall as Alexander Karelin at roughly 193 cm (6" 4').

[edit] Sumo

Professional sumo wrestlers are required to be at least 173 cm (5' 8") tall. Some aspiring sumo athletes have silicon implants added to the tops of their heads to reach the necessary height.[84] The average height for a sumo wrestler is 180 cm, far above the national average in Japan.

[edit] Swimming

Height is generally considered advantageous in swimming. Taller swimmers with longer arms are able to achieve better leverage, hence more acceleration, in the water. This is especially true for freestyle. An example of a tall swimmer is Michael Phelps, at 6'4" (195 cm) who won eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games. The average height of the 8 finalists in the 100 meter Freestyle final at the US Olympic Trials was 6'5". Another exceptionally tall swimmer is American backstroker Matt Grevers.

[edit] Artistic Gymnastics

In artistic gymnastics, it is advantageous to be shorter. A lower center of gravity can give an athlete better balance. A smaller athlete may also have an easier time manipulating their body in the air.

[edit] History of human height

Average height of troops born in the mid-nineteenth century, by country or place.

Country Metric Height
Australia 172 cm
U.S. 171 cm
Norway 169 cm
Ireland 168 cm
Scotland 168 cm
Sweden 168 cm
Bohemia 167 cm
Lower Austria 167 cm
Moravia 166 cm
England 166 cm
France 165 cm
Wales 165 cm
Russia 165 cm
Germany 164 cm
Netherlands 164 cm
Spain 162 cm
Italy 161 cm
Japan 155 cm


In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Europeans in North America were far taller than those in Europe and were the tallest in the world.[85] The original indigenous population of Plains Native Americans was also among the tallest populations of the world at the time.[86] Several nations, including many nations in Europe, have now surpassed the US, particularly the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian nations.

In the late nineteenth century, the Netherlands was a land renowned for its short population, but today it has the second tallest average in the world, with young men averaging 183 cm (6'0 ft) tall and in Europe are only shorter than the peoples of the Dinaric Alps (a section largely within the former Yugoslavia), where males average 185.6 cm (6 ft 1.1 in) tall. The Dinarians and Dutch are now well known in Europe for extreme tallness. In Africa, the Maasai, Dinka and Tutsi populations are known for their tallness, with some reports indicating an average male height of up to 190 cm (almost 6 ft 3).

Colonial populations present an interesting case in the evolution of human height. Though the European population in South Africa is principally descended from Dutch and British settlers of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries (at a period when both England and Holland reported average male heights of under 5 foot 6), the present European descended population has shown a similar increase in height as have the nations from which they are descended. A 1998 survey recorded an average height of 177 cm for European descended South African males, and 164 cm for European descended South African females [58]. Australians likewise are taller than their ancestors, averaging over 178 cm, and women 163.9 cm in a survey conducted in 1995 [2]. By comparison, a British survey from a similar period averages the male population height at 174.4 cm, and the female population at 161 cm [66]. This means that despite many Australians and European descended South Africans having descended from British people, their current average height is over an inch greater than the present UK average (approximately 0.4 Standard Deviations).

Average male height in impoverished Vietnam and North Korea[87] remains comparatively small at 163 cm (5 ft 4 in) and 165 cm (5 ft 5 in), respectively. Currently, young adult North Korean males are actually significantly shorter. This contrasts greatly with the extreme growth occurring in surrounding Asian populations with correlated increasing standards of living. Young South Koreans are about 12 cm (4.7 inches) taller than their North Korean counterparts, on average. There is also an extreme difference between older North Koreans and young North Koreans who grew up during the famines of the 1990s-2000s. North Korean and South Korean adults older than 40, who were raised when the North and South's economies were about equal, are generally of the same average height.

In the early 1970s, when anthropologist Barry Bogin first visited Guatemala, he observed that Mayan Indian men averaged only 157.5 cm (5 ft 2 in) in height and the women averaged 142.2 cm (4 ft 8 in). Bogin took another series of measurements after the Guatemalan Civil War had erupted, during which up to a million Guatemalans had fled to the United States. He discovered that Mayan refugees, who ranged from six to twelve years old, were significantly taller than their Guatemalan counterparts. By 2000, the American Maya were 10.24 cm (4 in) taller than the Guatemalan Maya of the same age, largely due to better nutrition and access to health care. Bogin also noted that American Maya children had a significantly lower sitting height ratio, (i.e. relatively longer legs, averaging 7.02 cm longer) than the Guatemalan Maya.[88][89]

[edit] See also

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] References

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[edit] External links