Quitting smoking and getting fit are both in themselves very difficult, however they work hand in hand. Quitting helps you get fitter and getting fit can help you quit.
Smokers who want to get fit often struggle due to the damage they’ve done to their body as well as fighting the addiction to nicotine. It’s only when trying to quit that you realise what damage has been done, however perseverance is key. Continuing to smoke while sticking to a good diet and regular exercise just won’t cut it. As Ann M. Malarcher, PhD, senior scientific advisor in the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health explains, “Research shows that eating a healthy diet and exercising don’t reduce the health risks associated with smoking”.
Smokers find it harder to catch their breath and have less energy and stamina than non-smokers. What’s more, as smoking increases the time it takes for the body to repair, it can be a struggle to maintain an exercise routine. This is due to the following:
- Smoking narrows your arteries making it more difficult for blood to flow to the organs that need it during exercise.
- Cigarettes contain carbon monoxide which binds to haemoglobin in red blood cells, slowing the flow of oxygen throughout the body. This puts a stain on muscles and makes it hard to breathe.
- Tar, which is found in cigarette smoke, coats the lungs. This creates resistance, making it hard for you to catch your breath. Tar also reduces the elasticity of air sacs in the lungs, which stops them from being able to absorb the oxygen they require to function correctly.
- As smokers have less oxygen-rich blood pumping through their bodies the heart has to work much harder to compensate, which increases your resting heart rate.
Support is key to helping you quit and to help you get fit. There are a plethora of smoking cessation aids that can help support you as you cut down on the cigarettes and quit. Ensure you invest in a support method that works for you, whether that’s nicotine patches, gum, spray or even electronic cigarettes.
Electronic cigarettes actually became the most popular smoking cessation aid in England 2012. Even though there’s still much debate over their benefits, reports have suggested they are less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes. Added to this, 29% of those who have used e-cigarettes to help them quit do so within six months. If you’re new to vaping, Aspire eCig UK recommend the Aspire Nautilus Mini Tank Clearomizer as it’s user-friendly and durable.
When you are ready to cut down and quit smoking, it’s important to understand your body’s limits in order to create an exercise routine that works with you. Here’s how exercise can help:
- When you exercise endorphins are released, which reduces your stress levels, so you’re less likely to reach for the cigarettes as a way to cope with stress.
- You can’t smoke at the gym. By removing yourself from your usual routines you can distract yourself and reduce the sense of withdrawal.
- If you’re exercising while trying to quit you’re less likely to put on weight, which is something many people worry about.
Yes, smoking can make exercising difficult, but exercise can help you quit in the long run. Just remember, with determination and time it is possible to both reverse the damage done and to get fit and kick the habit.