If you are a smoker, you might think that you have heard all the “you should quit smoking” arguments. Maybe you haven’t. Here’s another one — smoking impairs your exercise.
Exercise To Quit Smoking
“Smoking impairs your exercise,” might not sound as convincing as “smoking increases your risk of dying too young.” However, the smoking-exercise connection has an added benefit — exercise helps smokers quit, according to a 12-year study of 434,190 people.
“Quitting smoking is hard,” wrote Nancy Shute stating the obvious in an article for National Public Radio entitled “Exercising Even A Little Bit Makes It Easier For Smokers To Quit.” “But exercising can make quitting easier, and make sliding back into smoking less likely.”
“Less likely” is an understatement. The 1996 to 2008 study concluded that smokers who only exercised 15 minutes per day were 55 percent more likely to give up smoking than people who didn’t exercise at all. What if you exercised more than “a little bit?” What if you exercised vigorously? (You exercised so that your heart rate was 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate (220 heartbeats per minute minus your age)?
Well, exercising vigorously also helps smokers become non-smokers, according to a study of previously sedentary female smokers. In this study conducted by Brown (R.I.) University, the smokers were all in a smoking cessation program. However, about half the smokers exercised three times weekly for 12 weeks. The other half did not exercise at all. The results were dramatic in terms of quitting smoking and losing weight.
“Women who exercised vigorously while trying to quit smoking were twice as likely to kick the habit and gained about half the weight of women who also tried to quit but didn’t do the workouts,” according to a Brown University article about the study.
Quitting smoking and exercising is preferable to smoking and exercising, but the results of the study published by National Public Radio shows that exercise helps smokers who can’t quit.
“Smokers who were active 30 minutes a day increased their life expectancy by 3.7 years,” reported National Public Radio. “That put them on a par with ex-smokers who got low levels of exercise. The big risks they’re looking at here are heart attack, stroke, and cancer.”
Ex-smokers who exercised 30 minutes daily increased their life expectancy by 5.6 years so quitting smoking and exercising is the best choice for smokers. Quitting smoking also helps people exercise more effectively, according to prominent health experts Kenneth Cooper and Dean Ornish.
In a chapter on smoking in his book “Controlling Cholesterol,” Cooper said smokers are more apt than non-smokers to have the following problems while they are exercising:
- A more erratic heartbeat
- Reduced endurance
- Higher blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
Cooper also wrote that smokers don’t improve their fitness as much as non-smokers during their exercise program. Ornish warned smokers of a more serious danger in his book “Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease.” He wrote that smokers should never exercise within two hours of smoking because smoking narrows coronary arteries. Narrower coronary arteries have more trouble delivering oxygen to the heart. You can suffer a fatal heart attack if your heart doesn’t have enough oxygen, concluded Ornish.
Quitting smoking doesn’t just help you when you exercise. The American Cancer Society has a list of the“immediate rewards of quitting smoking.” The list includes the ability to do everyday activities such as walking up stairs without gasping for breath. “Studies have shown that secondhand smoke causes thousands of deaths each year from lung cancer in healthy non-smokers,” the report says.