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Benefits of Exercise on Quitting Smoking


If you are serious about dropping off cigarettes, exercises can help you succeed. This article is about the benefits of exercise to your quit smoking efforts.

Investigation shows that smokers who enroll in a regular exercise program have a much higher quit-smoking success rate. It would therefore not be out of place to say, the higher the level of activity, the higher the success rate. Even though smoking and exercise aren’t the best of friends, a 1996 Gallup poll of tobacco users revealed that those who exercised were twice as likely to give up as those who did not.

To add weight to the growing evidence of the benefits of exercise on quitting smoking, a recent study has revealed that exercise plays a vital role in helping you to quit smoking. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, focused on the results of attaching exercise advice to a teen-focused stop smoking program.

According to a Reuter’s report,“the idea for the new study came partly from the fact that some research in adults suggests exercise can help smokers quit – possibly by easing withdrawal symptoms or taking the edge off cigarette cravings.”

You can read more about this research on how exercise can help teen smokers quit.

It will be noted that earlier in the year 2009, a First Brain Study exposed the benefits of exercise on quitting smoking.

The research, carried out in the University of Exeter revealed that changes in brain activity, prompted by physical exercise, may help reduce cigarette cravings. Published in the journal Psychopharmacology, the study shows how exercise changes the way the brain processes information among smokers, thereby reducing their cravings for nicotine.

The study adds weight to a growing body of evidence that exercise can help manage addiction to nicotine and other substances. It backs up previous studies, which have shown that just one short burst of moderate exercise can significantly reduce smokers’ nicotine cravings.”

How Does Exercise Benefit Quit Smoking Efforts?

The fact that cigarettes alleviate stress for many smokers is incontestable and if you ask many a smoker, they’ll tell you the primary reason they smoke is to ease off stress. Now, when you decide to give up smoking and you take it a step further by smoking your last cigarette, you are likely going to be under a lot of stress and strain. But when you exercise, it relieves you of the stress and takes the place of your dependence on cigarettes for stress relief. So much so that you depend on exercise to alleviate stress instead of cigarettes.

Workouts or exercise influence smoking cessation in more ways than one. Here is a list of the major positive effects of exercise:

* Exercise distracts you; keeps your mind off smoking.

*Workouts put your circulatory and respiratory systems in tip-top condition.

* Exercise keeps stress off (this is a benefit smokers erroneously believe they obtain from cigarettes).

* Workouts give you a total feeling of wellness and boost your stamina.

* On its part, Aerobic exercise slows down the aging process.

* People tend to eat more when they’re suffering from nicotine withdrawal, so the extra workouts help to keep weight gain off.

* Also, exercise will release endorphins in the body that will make you feel naturally high and alert (an improved mood, sort off). There are many ways for you to experience a totally natural high. If you want to experience a high without using drugs or drinking coffee, just exercise.

For your information, Endorphins are a group of neurotransmitters. There are many of them in the human body and their main job is to alter the conduct and sensations in the brain. When released, these chemicals help the body deal with pain or stress. By stimulating the production of endorphins, you can experience the natural high. This natural high will make you experience less pain and more pleasure. These endorphins will also boost the immune system, thereby making it much more effective. As a result, you will feel less hungry.

* Working out daily bolsters your self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.

* Exercise helps the lungs to function better. When you exercise, the lungs are empowered to extract oxygen from the air and transmit same to the working muscle. At the same time, they are bolstered to excrete waste products such as carbon dioxide. This improves your overall performance.

* Workouts expand the blood vessels, thereby allowing blood to flow liberally to the hands, feet, and surface areas of the body. This keeps the body warm. Most smokers complain of cold feet and hands but exercise overcomes this.

* It has always been said that smoking involves a twin addiction (mental and physical). Exercise helps you to mentally and physically overcome the cravings.

*Not only is exercise a great substitute for smoking, it also helps to rebuild the lungs after you smoke your last cigarette. You may find that as you exercise more; you cough more, clearing out your lungs and airways. This is good. Most likely you’ll breathe easier and build up your endurance as you move further and further from your last cigarette.

What Type of Exercise is Beneficial to Stop Smoking?

Experts advise that aerobic or cardiovascular exercises are the best.

What is Aerobic Exercise?

Wikipedia says it “is physical exercise of relatively low intensity and long duration, which depends primarily on the aerobic energy system. Aerobic means “with oxygen”, and refers to the use of oxygen in the body’s metabolic or energy-generating process. Many types of exercise are aerobic, and by definition are performed at moderate levels of intensity for extended periods of time.”

Wikipedia further goes on to segment the varieties of aerobic (cardiovascular) exercise under indoor and outdoor categories.

Under Indoor, it lists exercises such as Stair climbing, Elliptical trainer, Indoor rower, Stairmaster, Stationary bicycle and Treadmill.

Under Outdoor, we have exercises such as Cross-country skiing, Cycling, Inline skating, Jogging, Running, and Nordic walking.

Under another category which it calls Indoor or Outdoor, Wikipedia lists exercises such as Kickboxing, Swimming, Jumping rope and Circuit Training.

Difference between Aerobic and Cardiovascular Exercises

A major difference is the fact that Cardiovascular (cardio) exercise refers to exercise that toughens the cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular system is one of the most important systems in your body. The cardiovascular system is made up of your heart, your blood vessels and your blood.

On its part, Aerobic means in the presence of oxygen, and aerobic exercise refers to exercise that lasts long enough to require oxygen. The same type of exercise satisfies both of these conditions, and the terms cardio and aerobic exercise are used interchangeably. Aerobic/Cardio exercise uses large muscles, usually the legs, in a rhythmic pattern. Examples include rowing, walking, bicycling, running, swimming, cross-country skiing, skating, and machines such as elliptical trainers and stair steppers .

Tips for Working out After Smoking Cessation

* Consult your doctor before you commence any exercise plan. What your doctor will probably have you do is begin on a low impact program on an elliptical machine or bike for 10 or 15 minutes 2-4 times a week. You would then increase your time every week or two as you gain energy.

* You can also climb the stairs, walk and run. They are all good ways to exercise. As a beginner, you can start walking up to 30 minutes every day and increase it as the days go by.

* You will also need to cut down on calories because the average quitter gains weight as a result of ‘comfort eating’-using food as a substitute for cigarette smoking.

* As for diet, just keep it healthy, cut out the junk food and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.

* Alongside your exercise, drink loads of water rather than snazzy drinks. This enables you to cleanse your body of nicotine and other toxins that might have accumulated as a result of smoking cigarettes.

*Start exercising as soon as you drop off cigarettes. Experts advise you start off slowly so your body doesn’t go into shock from you over-stressing it. It’s recommended you begin by walking a couple miles a day until you feel you are getting stronger. Sweating will get the toxins out of your system and you will feel great after a couple of weeks.

But please don’t overdo it. You can’t get fit overnight, and pushing your body to the limit at the initial stage is a bad idea. Begin with some light aerobics, like walking or slow tread milling. Make it your goal to do at least 20 minutes three times a week – that’ll start helping right away and, more importantly, it will get you into the habit. After a couple of weeks, move it up to 5 times a week, and maybe add some weight training. Increase the workload, but only gradually. Remember that slow and steady wins the race.

* Be consistent. Make sure you walk or run a set distance every day at the same time.

* To get started, choose an exercise you enjoy. This is for you to avoid feeling bored and look up to doing the exercise everyday. Common exercises include walking, jogging, biking, swimming, tennis, etc.

* For many people, exercise is hard work. Be sure to pick an exercise that you enjoy, and having an exercise partner is a great way to stay motivated and stick with a program. Try to find a partner who is encouraging and supportive and will hold you accountable of your improvement and success!

*Making major lifestyle changes such as quit smoking, diet and exercise at the same time can be a laborious task. This is why it is important to begin a regular exercise program several months before the expected date of smoking cessation. Not only does exercise help in managing your weight, it is also a healthy alternative activity that assists overcome cigarette withdrawal.

* Last but not the least,exercise boosts your energy level and makes you feel physically and mentally alert. On the contrary, cigarettes drain your energy, damage your body, and lead to an untimely death through lung or heart disease.

There you have it, reasons why you should exercise while trying to quit smoking. Not only is it beneficial, it also helps you keep fit for life.

More Quit Smoking Resources

* Tips to Stop Smoking

* Stop Smoking Medications

* Natural Ways to Quit Smoking

* Stop Smoking Cold Turkey

* How to Quit Smoking


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Categories: Exercise to Quit

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  11. [...] 1) Exercise: Avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Get physical. Several studies have indicated that mild to moderate physical workouts can greatly reduce stress. Walking for as little as 15 minutes every day is said to be hugely beneficial to the body and mind as you attempt to quit cigarettes. This is because exercise elicits endorphins, which make the body and mind feel good. Call it the ‘feel good’ hormone and you won’t be far from the truth. Once you have this ‘feel good’ chemicals in your system, you tend to detest the ‘feel good’ feelings you get from nicotine when you smoke and that is why researchers say smoking and exercise are incompatible; one has to make way for the other. Read more about the advantages of physical workouts to stop smoking. [...]

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