Exercising to Quit Smoking
The American Lung Association observes that it usually takes cigarette smokers an average of five to six “serious attempts” to succeed in quitting the habit. There are many ways people try to kick the habit, including the use of chewing gum or pharmaceutical aids to reduce cravings. A team of researchers evaluated the effects of physical activity on smoking cessation by studying data from past clinical trials, each involving a few participants who were not involved in a quit program or using nicotine replacement products like gums or patches.
Adrian A. Taylor, a professor of exercise and health psychology at the University of Exeter in the UK and his team combined the results from 19 small clinical trials that looked into the immediate effects of short bouts of physical activity on smokers’ cigarette cravings.
The hopeful quitters were randomly assigned to either an active exercise group or a “passive” activity group. Exercises included walking, jogging, biking or other physical activities while passive activities included watching a video or just sitting quietly.
Taylor’s team found that people reported less desire to smoke after exercising than they did before workouts, resulting in about one-third lower cravings. However, they state that it is still unclear if these translate into greater chances of finally quitting. Still, the researchers assert that although exercise seems to have temporary benefits it can be strongly recommended.
Taylor says that it is possible that exercise serves as a distraction and that it may also boost one’s mood which reduces the need to smoke. He also notes that since nicotine replacement therapy reduces cravings, exercise might have less effects for those who are using these products or other medications used for smoking cessation.
Norton, A. Exercise may temporarily ease cigarette cravings. Reuters.
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