Is Not Exercising Bad?…It’s WORSE Than Smoking!

Is not exercising bad? Um, we all know the answer to that question.

But many of us who haven’t been doing it like we should might be morbidly interested in knowing…HOW MUCH damage has been done?

“Give it to me straight, doc! How bad is it?”



Well, that of course depends on other factors. Do you stand all day (way better than sitting, because humans weren’t meant to sit for long stretches of time)? Do you eat healthy?

I’ve heard people say this before, in fact: “I don’t exercise, but at least I eat healthy, so it’s OK. Is not exercising bad, really?”

Is this true??

It’s kind of the reversal of an idea you hear more often, that you can eat unhealthy and, as long as you work it off at the gym, you’re good! Obviously that’s not true either.

While it is true that exercise and intermittent fasting can lower your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), thus unclogging your arteries and preventing further clog, it’s difficult-to-impossible to actually REVERSE plaque buildup caused by trans fats, and refined sugar. (Sugar creates bad cholesterol that causes plaque buildup, because sugar turns into triglycerides which turns into LDL.)

This is because tactics like eating a lot of fibrous, cruciferous veggies, and lots of fish and good-fat-nuts like walnuts; trying an IF diet; and exercise can shrink plaque, but most docs agree that plaque doesn’t disappear.

But still, eat your veggies!!



For more tips on a healthy diet to shrink plaque, click here to read my Ultimate Guide to High Fat Eating.

So, in short, to answer the question of whether exercise can undo a bad diet: You can’t undo the damage already caused, but you can “shrink” it…if you start eating better right now!

But to answer our original question, is not exercising bad? Isn’t eating healthy the most important thing?

Well…I know that recently, there’s been a huge push on diet “above” exercise, because when it comes to LOSING WEIGHT, yes, diet is more important than exercise.

I’m afraid that some people have taken this “diet is more important” idea a little bit too literally. All it’s supposed to mean is, if you exercise but don’t change your diet, you’re not going to see your stomach fat fall off.



But in no way does this diminish the importance of exercise, of course!! It’s true, not exercising is worse for you than smoking. Living a sedentary lifestyle, according to a Cleveland Clinic study done over more than 20 years, has a worse outlook for early mortality, than having a disease like diabetes or heart problems…or being a smoker!

So, is not exercising bad? YES, absolutely!

I know it’s scary, and you may feel afraid of all your past bad decisions.

But similar to how we concluded above, starting RIGHT NOW can undo most of that damage.

The Cleveland Clinic study also points out that the researchers did not observe any max limit/ceiling for how awesome exercise is for cardiorespiratory health…meaning that you may as well exercise as much as you can, because it’s not like there’s some kind of peak benefit. Science proves in every possible way, the more exercise, the better. 

It’s easy to make excuses like, “at least I eat well,” or on the other hand, “at least I exercise,” to wave away how bad our other habits are.

Comment below and tell me if YOU struggle with this, “Welllll at least I…” type thinking? I’m curious!



Harvard Health

TIME Magazine