Exercise History: The Health and Fitness of Henry VIII

At 18 Henry VIII was fit and athletic. At 44 he was badly injured while jousting. After that, his health headed south. Morbid obesity caused many of his health problems.


After the age of 44, King Henry suffered complications from compulsive eating disorder, excessive drinking, chronic constipation, insomnia, migraines, chronic painful ulcers on both legs, excessive bellyfat, slow wound healing, perpetual weight gain, overeating disorder, morbid obesity, persistent stomach aches, muscular deterioration due to inactivity, and was unable to walk without assistance.


Henry VIII enjoyed exercise until he suffered an accident while participating in jousting, at the age of 44. After this, he couldn’t participate in his favorite activities due to chronic pain from his injuries, which his doctors were unable to treat. The king gained weight, and in turn, the excess weight restricted his ability to participate in physical activity, resulting in increased poor health.


When King Henry was 44, he was trapped under his horse, after falling off during jousting. Both wore heavy armor. Henry was unconscious for 2 hours.


King Henry suffered a facial injury near his eye while jousting. His opponent’s wooden lance landed a few inches from his eye, and most likely his migraines were related to this accident.


King Henry’s waist circumference as a young man was 18 inches. In later years it was 52 inches.


The king’s chest measurement in later years was 53 inches.


King Henry’s estimated weight at death was 300 to 400 pounds His height was 6 feet and 2 inches.


King Henry suffered chronic pain, and his overall temperament, post-accident was unpleasant. As his health worsened he was usually in a bad mood, and often unpredictable.


Opinions vary on King Henry’s cause of death. Some of them are renal and liver failure. Carrying around excess bodyfat strained and stressed his heart, circulation, and lungs. Excessive eating and drinking clogged up his liver. He most likely had hardening and clogging of the arteries from lack of exercise. I would venture to guess, that the essential cause of his death was heart failure, as an outcome of morbid obesity.


Henry VIII was 55 years old when he died.

Irene Pastore, is a Certified Personal Trainer, fitness blogger, health educator, and speaker. She has 24 years experience teaching exercise in New York City. Visit the About page to read her bio.. to read her bio4

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