According to the CDC, roughly one out of every five deaths in America is a result of the health repercussions of smoking cigarettes. Smoking causes a person’s chances of developing a long list of various cancers to skyrocket. It impedes circulation and increases the chances of heart disease. On a much shallower note, it’s a very expensive habit, it yellows teeth, and makes a person smell terrible.
There’s no doubt that smoking’s a nasty habit, and it’s highly unlikely that you don’t already know that. Having that knowledge doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to drop the habit. There are many tricks, tips, and gimmicks out there meant to help a person quit smoking, but by far and large the one that has the most health perks (not just the absence of health risks) is exercise.
How can exercise help you quit smoking? Keep reading, and let the reasons serve as motivation for you to make the move to kick the habit.
Exercise can minimize the feeling of withdrawal from nicotine
Multiple studies have shown that exercising while you are trying to quit can reduce the feelings of withdrawal that come with the sometimes-unpleasant task. Make sure to start slow, especially if you are new to exercising, and listen to your body.
Exercise increases body awareness
Jump on a treadmill and for 15 minutes push yourself into a speed that challenges your lungs or makes you break a sweat. Feel that heart pounding? Your legs might start throbbing or cramping and your lungs might start feeling much hungrier for air. Exercise can help you get back in synch with your body, which also makes you more conscious of the improvements that you will start to feel in your physical health shortly after you quit smoking.
Working out diminishes stress levels
Lighting up becomes a coping mechanism for smokers. Work gets tough, disagreements occur, and life happens. Your first instinct might always be to reach for a smoke but you can minimize the intensity of that urge, and the stress you experience, with exercise.
Physical activity increases self esteem & improves your mood.
Exercise releases mood boosting endorphins, which can help offset some of the downswings in attitude that you might encounter when trying to stop this nasty habit. You can also boost your faith in yourself with the difficult task at hand by taking on new physical challenges; completing a hike or running further on the treadmill than you did last week.
When you are trying to ditch an old habit, you absolutely must fill that gap with something else
You can’t cut out a longtime habit without filling in the previously filled space with something else. Working out is probably the best, most healthful thing that you could possibly use to fill that gap.
Working out while you stop smoking can fight off weight gain
Many people fear weight gain while they are trying to quit smoking. Physical activity not only burns off extra calories, it can also help you cope with the stress of quitting in an efficient enough way that you no longer feel the need to eat compulsively or out of stress (what most often causes an ex-smoker to gain weight).
Exercise can help suppress the urge to light up a cigarette
Between the stress management, reduction of withdrawal symptoms, the release of endorphins, and redirected use of your time, energy & focus (away from smoking), working out can indeed help to repress the cravings for a cigarette.
Build a Stop Smoking Exercise Plan
Cardio is an essential component of quitting smoking. It taxes the lungs and makes you aware of how much better you feel as you get more and more days, weeks, and months between you and your last cigarette. A minimum of thirty minutes of cardio 5 days a week is ideal, but you may want to do longer sessions at a higher frequency when you find that it is in fact an effective method of coping with the stresses of smoking cessation.
Strength training is another important piece of the puzzle. You can increase your strength, boost your confidence, and increase your bone density and the rate at which you body burns calories with exercises that build muscle– and that’s just to name a few perks. Aim for two to three days a week of this kind of working out, always putting at least day in between training each muscle group (or longer, if a muscle group is still sore).
Add exercise to your routine when you want to you stop smoking. Be confident; your goal might be daunting but it is possible and it is definitely worthwhile.