How Dan Marino Lost 20 Pounds & Recovered From Knee Pain

Dan Marino Photo Credit: Shutterstock

He’s thrown over 8,300 professional football passes and landed a spot in the NFL Hall of Fame (not to mention an iconic cameo in the 1994 comedy “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective”), but Dan Marino is still a normal human who deals with the common issues that many other American men face: weight gain and knee pain. Nevertheless, the 60-year-old Dolphins legend remains an athlete by nature, and he recently opened up about overcoming the two factors that affected his lifestyle. 

Like many Americans who gained weight amid the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, Marino put on around 20 pounds. Indeed, statistics from a Journal of the American Medical Association report showed that Americans gained around two pounds per month during the pandemic. Nevertheless, another factor influenced Marino’s heavier figure: In the past year, the former quarterback underwent several surgeries to replace both his knees to help reduce the pain that affected him since his playing period. 


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For Marino, the surgeries meant sacrificing more fitness time for recovery time. But despite the consequential weight gain, he decided to slowly get active again. “Mainly, it’s getting started: You start losing weight, you see progress, and you want to lose more,” Marino told Men’s Health. Getting off the couch, he engaged in more walking, cycling and pool work. He also brought back his one-hour training sessions with Terry Kirby—a former Dolphins teammate who has trained with Marino for years—in the mornings. 

Shedding pandemic weight also meant returning to Nutrisystem, which he appeared as a spokesperson for. “It makes it simple—they just send it right to your house,” Marino said of the diet that helped him lose weight. “They have new foods—burritos and soups and pastas, and I’ve always liked that.”

The weight loss naturally alleviated some of the pressure placed on Marino’s knees, but he also relied on blood flow restriction training—which restricts blood flow using a cuff around the leg—at a rehab facility to further the effort. In fact, a 2017 study found that performing this type of training helped participants lessen their knee pain while lifting less. Although that training requires specialized equipment, Marino also keeps his knees healthy by strengthening his quads with bodyweight squats. Moreover, Kirby ensures Marino spends time on the stationary bike, given a 2021 research review concluded stationary cycling was effective for relieving knee osteoarthritis. 

A legend in the field and an inspiration for optimal health at any age, Dan Marino definitely remains a Hall of Famer in our hearts.