09/22/2011 10:03 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

We All Get Shorter As We Age, Research Confirms

You're not just imagining it -- you do get shorter as you get older, new research reveals.

Research has shown that most people shrink from age 30 to 70, with men getting about an inch shorter and women getting about two inches shorter, the Early Show reported. And when people hit age 80, men and women lose another inch on top of that.

After age 40, it's not uncommon to start getting just a little bit shorter. But shrinking too much or too fast could be a sign of health problems, research shows.

The Wall Street Journal reports research that shows men age 70 or older who shrink more than 2 inches in two years are 54 percent more likely to break their hip bone than men who don't shrink as much as fast. And for women, that increased fracture risk is 21 percent.

AARP also reported that men who, over a 20-year-period, lose at least 1.2 inches off their height have a 46 percent higher risk of suffering heart disease an a 64 percent higher risk of dying, compared with men who lose 1.2 inches over a 30- to 40-year time span.

The reason why people shrink as they age is because the little gel-like discs in your back get more and more squished with time, thereby making you shorter, the Early Show reported.

And as people age, bones may also shrink both in density and size, which could also add to the shrinkage, according to the Mayo Clinic.

To keep from getting too short too fast, avoid smoking cigarettes, drinking caffeine or alcohol, taking steroids and extreme dieting, the Wall Street Journal reported. Instead, eat healthily, get adequate vitamin D and calcium and exercise regularly.

And turns out, everyone shrinks a little bit each day, KidsHealth.org reported. That's because water in the discs that are in the spine get more and more compressed throughout the day, causing people to be just a smidgen shorter at the end of the day than they were at the beginning of the day. However, whatever height is lost at the end of the day is regained after a night's rest, KidsHealth.org reported.