13.1 Physical Growth in Adolescence

The adolescent growth spurt is a rapid increase in an individual’s height and weight during puberty resulting from the simultaneous release of growth hormones, thyroid hormones, and androgens. Males experience their growth spurt about two years later than females. The accelerated growth in various body parts happens at different times, but for all adolescents it has a fairly regular sequence. The first places to grow are the extremities (head, hands, and feet), followed by the arms and legs, and later the torso and shoulders. This non-uniform growth is one reason why an adolescent body may seem out of proportion. During puberty, bones become harder and more brittle.

Before puberty, there are nearly no differences between males and females in the distribution of fat and muscle. During puberty, males grow muscle much faster than females, and females experience a higher increase in body fat. An adolescent’s heart and lungs increase in both size and capacity during puberty; these changes contribute to increased strength and tolerance for exercise.

An adolescent boy^[[Image](https://pixabay.com/photos/boy-teenager-teenage-boy-young-2691486/) on [Pixabay](https://pixabay.com/)]

Figure 13.1: An adolescent boy551

An adolescent girl^[[Image](https://pixabay.com/photos/hijab-muslim-indonesia-ramadan-2355655/) on [Pixabay](https://pixabay.com/)]

Figure 13.2: An adolescent girl552