Did a lack of exercise make me shorter?

Last updated on August 26, 2020


Hi ,

I’m very confused about my body and kind of scared in fact. Why? Well, see I’m 14 and only 5′ 8″ tall — almost as tall as my mom. My dad and older brother are about 5′ 11″ tall. I see these charts, yet they don’t match up with me. I have hair on my stomach and some on my chest. A lot of hair around my groin and on my inner thighs. My armpit hair has virtually stayed the same I think. (I don’t check often). My penis and genitals have darken in color. (Maybe from masturbating?) Also, I have some hair on my upper lip, some on my jaw and chin, and under my chin. My penis can go being only 1″ to 2″ flaccid to being only around 4″ erected which hasn’t change for a while. My voice is noticeably deep, yet occasionly now for the pass month it has been breaking. I don’t let myself get much exercise. Is this a problem with how I grow?

Could anyone help me or send me an email?


When talking about growth and development, there are a number of things that change in a series. There are changes to your body hair, changes in body shape, changes in the genitals, changes in the skin, changes in the voice, etc. Each item goes through the same series of changes, but when the series starts and stops is different for each individual. Most of the time the series line up, but you will always find a person who might develop body hair sooner than growing in height. That is why the Tanner Stage Calculator asks so many questions about so many different aspects of body changes.

Not everyone gets a lot of armpit hair, so what you describe isn’t unusual. Every man’s genitals darken as they change to an adult. It is because the skin thins out as the penis and scrotum develops. You can see the blood vessels under the surface easier. Masturbation didn’t cause it; it would have gotten darker if you masturbated or didn’t masturbate.

Exercise won’t affect your growth, but it will change your appearance. Since you don’t exercise much, I assume you are overweight. This makes your penis appear to be smaller because it is anchored inside your groin. Body fat hides a good bit of it. Getting more exercise will improve your appearance and make you feel better as well. At a minimum, start by doing things that get you breathing hard for at least 30 minutes each day.

Please keep in mind that since I can’t see you, I can only go by your description. If you missed an important point or got a fact wrong, I can’t correct you. However, from your description, it appears you are in stage 4. It appears your body and pubic hair developed sooner than the average. I suspect you started developing at an earlier age than your peers because you are about 2 to 3 years further in development than the average male. Because you started earlier, you also end up finishing earlier. Most males who start early tend to be shorter because they are starting with less childhood growth to build on. Being in stage 4 means you probably have less than two inches of growth left before you are done. If you visit a doctor, he can x-ray your growth plates and tell you if they are closing down or not. If they are still open, you have the potential to grow more.


Well, thank you very much for replying. The best I can do is just wait, I suppose, and see where I go. My body definitely has a grown-up appearance, I think — besides my arms. Yes, I am overweight, really overweight. I weigh around 192 pounds. Just recently soft drinks have come into my life, and it’s hard to give up. Any way of helping me drop weight healthy and cheap? (My family isn’t exactly the richest in the whole world.) I have a treadmill and dumbells. I have started this thing where I can drop a half a pound in one day. Is this healthy? Also, I stopped exercising because it’s just not all fun.

Thank you, again.


It is technically cheaper to lose weight than to gain it. You don’t need fancy things. You need to grow up mentally and be responsible for yourself. Self-control is something you are supposed to learn in your teenage years, so this is the right time to do it. At 192 you are overweight, but not extremely so. Your BMI is 29.2; it should be below 25, which means we need to get you down to 160 or less. Losing about 1 to 2 pounds a week would be a good pace. Usually, in the beginning, you lose quickly, and as you near your correct weight, it slows down.

To lose weight, especially at your age, all you need to do is discipline yourself to eat less. So let’s make a few small adjustments to your diet. You like soft drinks, so switch from sugared ones to diet versions. At first, you might not like the taste, but it will make a significant impact on the number of calories you are consuming. Along with this, eliminate one snack a day. So if you are used to eating a snack between lunch and dinner and one after dinner, drop one. It will be hard at first, but remind yourself that you haven’t completely eliminated them, you just removing this one and surely you can survive without that one.

In doing these, you are not allowed to increase anything else. You can’t say, “Because I didn’t have a snack today, I can have an extra helping at dinner.” If you fall into this trap, you will end up eating more than you did when you had the snack.

At first, these changes will cause you to quickly drop, and then your weight will level out. We’ll add other changes when that happens.

Reducing your calorie intake is only one side of the equation. You also need to increase the calories that you burn. What you want is 30 minutes each day of breathing hard. It doesn’t need to be a formal exercise plan. Make it a game. From now on, you won’t take the elevator or escalator, you will always use the stairs. When you go somewhere that is within a mile of your house, you will always walk or ride a bike instead of getting a ride. You will be amazed at how fast exercise accumulates when you forgo modern conveniences.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (I Corinthians 9:24-27).


Thank you so much! I’ll tell you in a month how I’m doing. Thanks for telling me all that. It’s going to really help.