It’s well known that smoking is harmful, but how exactly does it affect the body? Here we look at what you need to know about the effects of smoking and how to improve your exercise performance…
Keeping healthy and fit is important, but for those who smoke, keeping active can become difficult due to the many harmful affects smoking has on the body. However, regular exercise can also help smokers to kick the habit all together.
Here’s how smoking affects the body:
Less energy and stamina. When exercising, blood vessels in your muscles dilate and blood flow increases to boost the oxygen supply to your muscles, providing the energy required to push your body to its limit. These limits, however, are reduced when you smoke due to the carbon monoxide within cigarettes, which binds to the haemoglobin in your red blood cells, preventing oxygen from doing the same, thus reducing the amount of oxygen available.
Bad blood and narrow arteries. Nicotine and carbon monoxide raise your fibrinogen, which clots blood, and lowers your high-density lipoprotein (HDL), causing atherosclerosis. This makes your blood sticky allowing lipids to accumulate, which build up in your arteries and narrows them. As such, it becomes increasingly difficult for blood to flow to organs that need it, making it harder to breathe and increasing the time it takes for the body to repair.
Chronic illness. Smoking causes the mucous membranes within your airways to swell and the tar in cigarette smoke coats the lungs creating resistance, making it difficult to catch your breath. Tar also reduces the elasticity of the air sacs in your lungs reducing their ability to absorb oxygen and decreasing your lung capacity. This can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) including emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Increased heart rate. Smokers have a higher resting heart rate than non-smokers because of the extra work and strain put on the heart to pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. This means smokers are at risk when exercising as their heart rate can rise to dangerous levels.
How to improve performance
For those who smoke, the best way to improve exercise performance is to kick the habit. Regular exercise can be used as a distraction to help you quit smoking, however if you need some help, there are a variety of smoking cessation aids available, from nicotine gum and patches, to electronic cigarettes, which are now the most popular aid to quitting in England. LiquideCigUK.co.uk explain a couple of reasons for this, quite simply, “… they’re less harmful than traditional cigarettes and cost up to 80% less.” The UK’s Royal College of Physicians also state that there is resounding evidence that e-cigarettes are “much safer” than smoking and aid quitting.” And that, “…vaping could improve the lives of millions of people…” What’s more, according to Statistic Brain, 29% of those who tried e-cigarettes quit smoking within six months.
Those who quit smoking benefit from improved exercise performance compared to those who continue to smoke. What’s more it’s suggested that 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate drops, after 12 hours the carbon monoxide levels in your blood drops to normal, and after two or three weeks lung function improves!