Obesity, hypertension, and diabetes

Woes of a

Retired Athlete

By: Lcda. Luciana Linárez. Physiotherapist.

It is very common that retired athletes gain weight, this problem starts to appear a few years after finishing their sport career. The weight gained is accompanied by other problems, hypertension and diabetes being the most common. This is caused mainly by the abrupt changes in their physical habits without making adaptations.

Impact of a Sedentary Lifestyle

For an athlete to become elite, their body generates a series of adaptive changes, pushing the body to different levels of physical and psychological stress throughout the years; which brings cardiac, hemodynamic, muscular and nutritional adaptations. If the athlete shifts to a sedentary lifestyle without detraining, these changes become harmful for the athlete.


An average individual manages ​​lower values than an athlete; if a sedentary individual handles those same values ​​in its body, problems arise, such as hypertension, diabetes, metabolic illness, arrhythmias, heart attack, anxiety disorders, and obesity among others.

There are forms to adapt to these drastic changes: The athlete must go through a stage of detraining, that is, the process where capabilities are lost generated with training, there are two types: there is one of short duration that lasts 4 weeks and the other lasts longer than 4 weeks.

Breathing changes are the most important in detraining; these are going to be responsible for several changes in the body. Initially, an athlete manages 4% levels which lowers to 14% and even 20% of its capacity of maximum consumption of oxygen during detraining.

Unfavorable Changes

These changes generate a domino effect, followed by the loss of blood volume and loss of systolic volume; in consequence cardiac muscle changes occur, one of the most notorious is the decrease in the thickness of the left ventricle; also produces changes in the increase of the heart rate during the maximum effort.

There are changes in the muscle in the levels of strength and capacity of shrinkage response that are a product of the decline of mitochondrial levels, changes in muscle fibers, and decreased oxidative capabilities.

With detraining, the levels of myoglobin and glucose enzymes do not seem to be affected, this can be achieved mainly through long duration detraining.


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