A shorter stature doesn’t come without pitfalls. There’s always that one person who calls you “shorty” or “fun-sized.” It’s impossible to see above a crowd. And don’t even get us started on the little head pat taller people seem to enjoy doling out.
You can take solace in the fact that you’re not alone. A recent study published in the journal eLife found that Americans on the whole aren’t quite as vertically blessed as the rest of the world.
A century ago, American men were the third tallest globally and American women ranked as the fourth tallest, CNN reported. American men now rank as the 37th tallest, and women are 42nd. In other words? Everyone else is growing around us.
But here’s the real deal: Life is actually pretty great on the shorter side. Having fewer inches doesn’t mean you get the short end of the stick when it comes to quality of life ― it actually has some serious wellness perks.
Below are a few reasons to celebrate your shorter height.
1. Being short could lower your risk for certain cancers.
A 2014 study of more than 5 million European subjects found that a taller person is at a greater risk for developing cancers like breast and skin, the BBC reported. The risk was found in both men and women. Additional research also supports this claim: A 2016 study found that long legs could also increase a person’s colorectal cancer risk.
It’s important to note that lifestyle factors are much more influential when it comes to cancer risk. Scientists also stress that, like with most research, definitive conclusions can’t be made when it comes to whether or not height actually causes cancer ― the two might just be linked. On top of that, the results still need to be heavily reviewed. But of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a slight advantage.
2. You’re less likely to have blood clots.
Researchers from the University of Tromso in Norway examined more than 25,000 subjects and their rate of venous thromboembolism, or the formation of blood clots deep in the vein (usually in the legs). The study authors found that the shorter, leaner individuals were less likely to experience VTE than taller, more obese participants. While it’s unclear what could cause the link, researchers theorize that it has to do with the differences in circulation in the body.
3. You may have more sex (if you’re a guy).
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that shorter men may have more intimacy in the bedroom. In an examination of more than 500 heterosexual Hungarian men, those under 5’9” reported having sex more often than those who were taller (almost three times more per week, in fact, according to Men’s Health).
4. You’re also less likely to encounter stressful life events.
Good news for those searching for marital bliss. Men under 5’7” are 32 percent less likely to divorce than those who are of average or taller heights, according to a study from New York University. This could have something to do with the age at which shorter individuals get married, more than anything. Researchers theorize shorter men likely have a longer courtship and could be entering matrimony on “more solid ground,” Men’s Health reported.
5. You could be a better distance runner.
Long legs appear to carry tall people further, but research on the human body suggests otherwise when it comes to pounding the pavement. Exercise researchers say that smaller people with slimmer legs are more equipped to run, while taller people are better built for sports like swimming, The New York Times reported. (Of course, you should always do whatever exercise will keep you engaged and active ― height be darned.)
6. Shorter people may live longer.
What’s more life-affirming about your height than greater longevity? Research published by the journal PLOS One found that individuals with a shorter stature are more likely to live longer than their taller counterparts. However, there’s a catch. The study was only conducted on Japanese-American men, so it’s difficult to definitively say it applies to all short people. But don’t lose hope: The results could very well apply to women and other ethnicities; more research just needs to be conducted in order to make that conclusion.
“People aren’t all that different. Genetically, we’re all pretty similar,” researcher Bradley Wilcox told HuffPost following the study. “If this effect applies to model organisms, than you can be pretty sure that it applies to other humans because humans are a lot more similar to each other than they are to model organisms.”
7. Your height is part of you.
When it comes down to it, you can’t change what you were genetically given. But why would you want to? You’re better at certain sports. You can weave in and out of a crowd better than anyone else. You own every inch. As the saying goes, “Good things come in small packages.” Embrace it.