It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to firstname.lastname@example.org and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.
I love this question. Even though Dr. Gourmet is about food, I believe that exercise is key to being healthy.
You can certainly lower your cholesterol without exercise. The research shows this to be the case. That said, you will do better to exercise regularly. Regular activity has clearly been shown to help lower your total cholesterol, improve the HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
It doesn't take much exercise to be healthier. Start with 3 hours a week. That's walking about 45 minutes 4 days a week. Don't worry at first about how far or how fast you walk. Take your time and build up to it. Likewise, you don't have to spend a lot of money. Starting a walking routine is simple and free. Adding resistance training is also easy and not expensive. Using resistance bands is a great way to get started.
Here's a link to help you get started with exercise. There's a lot of simple, easy to use resources for you.
Thanks for writing,
Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP