If you’ve been putting off exercising while you try to quit smoking, you may want to change your plans. Research shows that working out can help you give up tobacco for good.
One study in Taiwan found that adults who exercise were 55% more likely to quit smoking and 43% less likely to relapse.
If anxiety and depression have made it difficult for you to quit smoking in the past, your odds may be even better. Exercise doubled the success rate for smoking cessation for adults with high-anxiety sensitivity in a recent study by the University of Texas at Austin.
See if exercise can help you to say goodbye to cigarettes. Take a look at these tips for kicking the habit while you shape up.
- Fight cravings. Moderate aerobic exercise appears to be especially effective for reducing the severity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. If you can reduce cravings, you’ll be less likely to light up.
- Deal with stress. Any physical activity tends to lift your spirits. That’s especially important when you may be feeling tense and hostile in those first few days of being smoke-free.
- Manage your weight. The average ex-smoker gains 5 to 10 pounds. Exercise keeps you slimmer by suppressing your appetite and burning extra calories.
- Live longer. What if you’re still unable to quit smoking on a single try? You might like knowing that working out increases longevity for both smokers and nonsmokers.
- Change your lifestyle. Positive health habits usually reinforce each other. When you exercise and give up tobacco, you may find yourself eating a more nutritious diet and going to bed earlier.
- Start out gradually. Smoking reduces your endurance and puts a lot of strain on your heart, lungs, and other organs. You may need to limit yourself to low-intensity workouts at first while your body recovers.
- Focus on aerobics. Make aerobic activities like walking and swimming your top priorities. Over time, you can add in other components to train for strength, flexibility, and balance as well.
- Stay active. Any movement can distract you from wanting a cigarette. Spend your time in between gym sessions doing yard work or flying a kite with your kids.
- Seek support. Having your family and friends on your side can make a big difference. Let them know how they can help you by joining you at a yoga class or giving you an occasional pep talk. You might also enjoy participating in online forums or calling a helpline.
- Consider nicotine replacement. Nicotine gum and other products can make you more comfortable while you’re quitting. Your pharmacist can explain how different products work, and some states even offer free kits to qualifying adults.
- Combine methods. Why rely on just one technique when you can use multiple methods that reinforce each other? Maybe you’ll succeed by wearing a patch and running a mile for 3 days each week.
- Try again. Most smokers need about 8 to 10 attempts before they quit for good. Count each effort as a success if it brings you closer to your ulitmate quit date.
- Talk with your doctor. Your physician can advise you on how to develop a plan for quitting smoking that addresses your individual needs. Personal attention will help you to stay safe and choose the most effective methods for you.
Smoking can be a difficult habit to break so you want all the help you can get. Along with proper medical and social support, exercise could be your solution for becoming tobacco free.