To quit smoking, just say yes… to exercising

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: June 25th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Want to kick the habit? Take a short exercise break! That’s what British researchers suggest if you want to resist the urge to light up.

Their study, conducted at the University of Exeter and published in the international journal Addiction, found that exercising… even for just five minutes… helps smokers cope with withdrawal symptoms and fight the urge to smoke.

The researchers reviewed fourteen studies that reported on smokers’ attempts to quit the habit. Most of the smokers who participated temporarily stopped smoking during the study.

Twelve studies looked at the benefits of exercise versus no exercise in terms of three effectiveness measures… craving scores, withdrawal symptoms and smoking behavior. These studies found that exercise helped smokers deal with these issues and decreased stress, anxiety, tension, irritability and restlessness.

Two studies looked at exercise intensity. One found that smokers who cycled at high intensity for five minutes had significantly lower cravings. The other reported that a brisk, one-mile walk had the largest and longest post-exercise effect… reducing cigarette cravings for as long as fifty minutes.

Forty-six million American adults smoke, according to the American Heart Association. Of these, an estimated seventy percent… or thirty-two-point-two million… say they want to quit completely.

Stopping smoking isn’t easy. But those who want to quit could see better results if they hit the road walking, running or cycling. Researchers say it’ll do them good by preventing weight gain and helping control cravings and withdrawal symptoms that often lead to relapse.