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Do I Actually Need to Exercise If I’m Skinny?

News flash to myself: Looking shrimpy doesn’t mean I can get away with spending all my free time horizontal, and life sucks now

I like to think I eat pretty well: My girlfriend and I typically cook our own meals, which usually include a decent amount of fruits and vegetables. Because I don’t eat too much crap, I’m on the lean side — for an American, in fact, I would probably even qualify as skinny.

However, when it comes to exercise, I absolutely fail. Occasionally, I try to hop on the stationary bike for a while, but I usually end up going weeks and weeks between doing any legit form of prolonged physical activity. My job also (obviously) requires me to sit at a desk for extended periods of time, so I don’t move around much. But considering the greens I get in my diet — and the fact that my body is still slim and slender — am I still a generally healthy individual, or does that lack of exercise mean I’m gonna die the same death as a guy twice my weight?

Sadly, the answer to that question is the opposite of what I had hoped for. “You can be skinny without having a lot of lean mass; you can be skinny while also having a relatively high fat percentage in your body; you can be skinny while also having clogged arteries,” says Dana Hunnes, senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. “So being skinny, in and of itself, doesn’t define or identify a healthy person whatsoever.”

In fact, my lackluster exercise routine — no matter how thin I may be — could be one of the absolute worst things for my long-term health. “I’ve heard that sitting is the new smoking,” Hunnes says. “If you don’t exercise or watch what you eat, you can be clogging your arteries, causing inflammation based on those foods and increasing your risk of developing numerous chronic diseases, from diabetes to heart disease to cancer.”

In one L.A. Times article that I feel personally attacked by, their expert confirms this concept. “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death,” James Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, tells the paper. “The chair is out to kill us.”

How, then, do I remain so thin despite my non-existence fitness routine? “Metabolism can play a role, as can genetics,” Hunnes explains. “There’s a theory known as the set point — there’s a weight that our bodies naturally gravitate toward, and that weight is often, in part, determined by genetics. The other 25 percent (let’s just say) is determined by what we eat and how much we move. So some people are just naturally thin because that’s their genetic makeup, their set point and/or their metabolism at play.”

All of which is to say, my death is soon and shit, fuck it, all right, fine, I’ll work out, goddamnit.