When Patrick Meninga quit smoking few years back, he substituted his smoking habit with running (a form of exercise) and he has not looked back since then.
Just like Patrick used exercise to replace his love for nicotine,you can also benefit from exercise while trying to quit.
In a study at the University of Exeter, smokers who had not smoked for the past 15 hours were told to cycle for 10 minutes, and then showed smoking-related images. After their exercise session, smokers were less responsive to the smoking-related visuals and reported decreased cravings for cigarettes. Withdrawal symptoms and cigarette cravings decrease during exercise and for as long as 50 minutes afterwards.
The study, led by Kate Janse Van Rensburg, a PhD student at the University of Exeter, concluded that exercise can help people give up smoking. It went on to say that moderate exercise could be a practicable option to many of the pharmaceutical products, such as nicotine patches, for people who want to stop smoking. While stating that a 15-minute walk, cycle or jog could help when tough and strong cravings set in, the study concludes that there are many other benefits from a physically active lifestyle including higher fitness levels, improved energy and mood and weight loss.
Suffice to say, smoking cessation is easier on the body when you eat right, get rest, and exercise consistently. Physical workouts are very useful as smokers who exercise are more likely to bid their smoking habit a permanent good-bye.
This explains why I wrote about the benefits of exercise to smoking cessation a while back. This follow-up article answers the question: why is it good to start exercise before quit smoking?
So,tell me,just why is it good to start exercise before quit smoking? It’s good because some people get overwhelmed if they make too many drastic lifestyle changes all at once. While some people thrive on making several lifestyle changes at the same time, others don’t. So, it’s good to start exercising before you quit to establish your exercise routine.
If you wait till you quit smoking to start exercise, I bet you never would. This is because, at that period, you would be grappling with so many things at the same time; cigarette carvings, headache, anxiety, insomnia,et cetera and adding an exercise routine just won’t be possible but if you had started before you quit, it would have become a habit.
Aside from becoming a habit, it would help you get through the nicotine cravings easily. This is because exercise helps you to relax. It can also distract you from those cravings when they spring up. An August 2012 study that looked at the effects of exercise on cravings corroborates this. The research findings published in the journal Addiction concluded that exercise or physical activity can reduce the urge to light up. Aside bringing down the urge to smoke, exercise can also prevent weight gain and decrease stress levels.
If you screw up everything in your stop smoking journey, let it not be this suggestion to exercise. Heed to it, work on your exercise regimen. Investing an hour daily in a physical workout will pay off handsomely as you will not only be fit, breathlessness will go away,weight gain will be a thing of the past and you will have an improved mood. You will also feel energetic (don’t forget that cigarettes drain energy but exercise restores it).
This explains why exercise helps quit smoking. Smoking and exercise are two incompatible habits. If you want to do away with one, just embrace the other. I believe this makes common sense.
Before you start exercising, please consult your doctor. Once you have your physician’s clearance, start with small exercise routines, like walking briskly around the house. You can start exercising for 30 minutes initially,you can then move it up as your body adjusts to your routine. Please note that you must break a sweat from any exercise you do as that is the only way to get optimal benefits from the exercise.
So, right before you quit, start walking every single day, without any exceptions. Commit to walking for an hour every day. If you initially can’t walk very fast, that is okay. Just stay true to your every-day-walking-plan and choose a date to quit smoking cold turkey within a few weeks. While looking forward to your quit date, keep walking every day and make it brisk so you can break a sweat. This is vital. You are going to need the boost in endorphins every day after you quit smoking.
By nature, human beings are lazy, just don’t get into this laziness trap as it will put paid to your desire to stop smoking. Force yourself to get up and do any exercise that will assist your stop smoking journey. Initially, it’s going to be tough but stay there,your body will soon get accustomed to it. Don’t also give me the ‘I-walk-to-work-everyday’ excuse for not exercising as walking is not a substitute for exercise. Vigorous exercise is essential as it will make you sweat out the toxins and also feel good.
Aside walking,other cardiovascular activities such as running, cycling and dancing can be of immense benefit as they would boost your breathing rate,increase your blood circulation and make your heart beat faster. But like I earlier said, start your exercise regimen with little steps and push your body to go higher. It’s rewarding and fulfilling. What’s more, you’ll be nicotine-free, at the end of the day.
If you still smoke as you read this, start exercising from today and plan towards quitting in a few weeks. Commit to your every day exercise and quit cold turkey. After quitting, drink lots of water and juice to cleanse your system of the toxins and nicotine that have accumulated as a result of many years of smoking.
If you feel you can’t exercise consistently alone, join a gym or pair up with a friend. Just do anything that requires to be done to become nicotine-free. Also,do exercises that excite you. Engaging in boring exercises can make you hate exercise times, so, choose carefully and choose, based on what you love and can commit to.
Even though, it’s often overlooked, exercise is a very simple secret weapon that can assist you to quit smoking. It’s a healthy alternative to smoking, it can take your mind off your cravings, it can help your mood and energy level, and it can help keep off extra weight. If you are new to exercising, start slowly. You will take it up a notch, from there. By all means, let exercise or physical work outs be in your stop smoking arsenal. As soldiers never go to war without a gun, never embark on your smoking cessation journey without it. A word to the wise, they say, is enough!