Can you be Fit and Healthy without Exercise?

Staying on top of our health and fitness can sometimes feel like an uphill struggle. Is it possible to be in peak physical condition, without moving a muscle? Here's a look at whether this sedentary dream could come true. 

Juggling our work, social life, hobbies and health can be challenging at the best of times; the current global COVID-19 situation has only made this harder, affecting practically every aspect of our normal lives. For many of us, eating healthier, losing weight or achieving our other fitness goals might isn't a priority. If only there was a way to be fit and healthy, inside and out, without needing to exercise – is it possible?


The first thing to consider is metabolism. Put simply, this is a measure of how many calories your body uses each day. People with a 'faster' or 'higher' metabolism need more to take in more energy each day to stay the same weight1. As babies, we have an extremely high metabolism and require constant feeding. As we get older, metabolism gets slower.

Some people can eat mountains of junk food and keep a trim, muscular frame, in part due to their metabolism. If you stop exercising completely, however, metabolism can often be improved or 'sped up' by adopting a healthier lifestyle. According to the NHS, you can speed up your metabolism by increasing your physical activity levels to burn more calories. Strength training, which works your muscles rather than lungs, is another useful tool to keep your metabolism in check1. Keeping your metabolism and weight under control requires exercise – without adequate physical activity, the chemical and biological processes within the body can get out of control.


According to a major study published in 2012, a lack of physical activity is responsible for 9% of all premature deaths and is tightly linked with depression, metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure as well as many forms of cancer, heart disease and diabetes2. Put simply, not getting enough physical activity will increase your risk of developing any of these serious health conditions. Adults in the UK should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week3.


Our muscles need constant use, otherwise they can gradually shrink and waste away. Use it or lose it! You might look and feel healthy without ever doing exercise, but the opposite can be true inside the body. Going without exercise will negatively affect your health and fitness in the long run. Thankfully, there are endless ways to get exercise and activity into your life, no matter how busy your schedule is. Find out why cycling, swimming and dancing could help your heart through exercise.

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2 National Library of Medicine