There is no question that exercise is a good habit to pick up. It can also help kick a bad habit, such as picking up a cigarette. In fact, according to the American Lung Association 21.1 million women smoke in the United States. Exercise is frequently implemented with many smoking cessation programs. A new study funded by the National Institute of Health and featured in a recent edition of The Journal Addictive Behaviors found that exercise can help female smokers quit, but only for the short term.
“Exercise may be a useful treatment strategy, but it has to be done frequently enough and consistently enough because the effects that it has diminish over time,” said David Williams of Brown University, who led a study for treating women smokers through exercise.
He collaborated with other researchers at The Miriam Hospital; University of Massachusetts, Boston; and St. George University of London to study 60 female smokers. The women participated in an eight-week smoking cessation treatment program.
Brown said that exercise can help with cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms. However, he said those cravings can come back as quickly, from several hours after an exercise program to up to a few days. He suggested that in order to kick the habit, exercise has to be done more often for a sustained period of time.
Each participant was given nicotine patches and counseling, but only half were asked to implement exercise. They walked on a treadmill for 50 minutes, three days a week, while the other group watched health and wellness videos. Their moods were monitored and recorded both before and after their respective exercise or video viewing sessions. Researchers also followed their sustainability to stick to a quitting regimen, by again interviewing them at their next destination after their treatment. Their findings were that those who exercised expressed feelings of improved mood and lower instances of cravings. These improvements were not, however, sustained for even a few days.
From a fitness and wellness perspective, exercise provides you with a great alternative to smoking. Instead of lighting one up you can workout.