Doctor Explains The Trick That Keeps Sumo Wrestlers Healthy

by : Emily Brown on :

Sumo wrestlers are typically known for their large size, and while being overweight can cause serious risks to wellbeing, one doctor has explained how the fighters stay healthy. 

The national sport of Japan, sumo wrestling sees competitors go head-to-head in a bid to knock their opponent off their feet, with the first to exit the ring or touch the ground with any part of their body other than the soles of their feet named the loser.


There are no weight restrictions or classes in sumo, meaning wrestlers could find themselves going up against someone much larger than themselves, who may be relying on their size to give them the upper hand.

Sumo wrestlers (Alamy)Alamy

It would be easy to assume the heavy fighters may be unhealthy, but Dr Karan Raj has explained the exercise that goes into how sumo helps wrestlers store their fat in a different way, allowing them to stay healthy.

In a video shared on TikTok, where he goes by the handle @dr.karanr, Raj said rather than having visceral fat, which is stored inside the abdomen and can wrap around organs, Sumo wrestlers store fat underneath the skin in the ‘subcutaneous layer’.


He explained, ‘This happens because intense exercise increases the hormone adiponectin. Adiponectin reduces the risk of visceral fat buildup. Basically adiponectin puts glucose and fat modules under our skin instead as of visceral fat.’

As visceral fat can ‘increase the inflammation and fat deposition in blood vessels’, it can increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart problems.

See Raj’s video below:



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Lots of studies have shown that sumo wrestlers have significantly less visceral fat than people of a same size and weight, according to the doctor, though he noted that the benefits of wrestling stop when the exercise does, with retired sumo wrestlers reportedly dying 10 years earlier than the average Japanese citizen.

After sharing the video, Raj added a comment to point out sumo wrestlers are ‘elite level athletes’ when involved in the sport, who undergo training for several hours a day.

According to The Culture Trip, sumo wrestlers live in training stables known as heya, where they follow strict traditions that dictate much of their daily lives, including what they wear and what they eat. The competitors are celebrities in Japan, earning thousands of dollars a month and retaining their prestigious titles for life.

The heaviest sumo wrestler ever is Ōrora Satoshi, who hit 292kg (645 lb) before he retired.


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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University and went on to contribute to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming Senior Journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news, trending stories and longer form features.

Topics: Health, exercise, Japan, Now


  1. @dr.karanr/TikTok

    Reply to @lionreaper sumo! #sumo #schoolwithdrkaran #learnontiktok #factorcap #japan