Mark Twain said, “Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.” Does this sound familiar? Like any other addiction smoking is a hard habit to break and most smokers don’t realize how much exercise can help. Most women are afraid to quit smoking because of the weight gain that is usually associated with quitting, but exercise has proven to reduce weight gain. In a study done through the Archives of Internal Medicine, women who exercised vigorously while trying to quit smoking were twice as likely to remain smoke-free and they gained about half the weight of those who did not exercise. Working with a personal trainer and dietician can help you reach your ultimate weight goal by keeping you focused and motivated throughout the process.
Most people who exercise are not smokers because once you get in a healthy habit you stay focused on healthy activities and are less likely to do anything harmful to the body. Think of it as replacing a bad habit for a good one. “People who exercise (when trying to quit smoking) feel better both mentally and physically and report fewer mood swings as well as a feeling of empowerment,” according to Colleen Doyle, MS, RD, director of nutrition and physical activity for the American Cancer Society (ACS). This empowerment can give you the strength to stay smoke free.
Remember, according to the ACS, smokers are twice as likely to die from a heart attack and women who smoke while on birth control pills have a higher risk of a heart attack, stroke, and blood clotting in the legs. Everyone knows that smoking can cause lung cancer, but few people realize it is also a risk factor for many other types of cancer as well, including cancer of the mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, stomach, and in some cases leukemia.
The health benefits of a smoke free lifestyle far out way the small weight gain or emotional problems that may follow quitting. Here are a few out of many listed on the ACS website:
• Circulation improves
• Lung function increases
• Coughing and shortness of breath decreases
• Reduces your chances of coronary heart disease in half after a year and as that of a non-smoker in 15 years
• Stroke rate decreases to that of a non-smoker after 5 to 15 years
There are also some great immediate benefits to quitting as well, such as, your breath smells better, stained teeth get whiter, bad smelling clothes and hair go away, food tastes better, sense of smell returns to normal and everyday activities no longer leave you out of breath.
Make no excuses and start the steps to quit smoking. Realize your body, health, and family are more important than a nicotine fix. Be sure to consult with your physician to get medical clearance when starting an exercise program and get going.