Want to Quit Smoking? Just Go Walking

Can exercise help you quit smoking? A new study at the University of Exeter says, "yes it can."  But can it help you give up other bad habits?  Read on to learn more about how working out can work for you in giving up cigarettes, addictions and bad habits.

Exercise has long been linked with helping smokers put out the fire because it replaces a bad habit with a healthy one; helps reduce cravings and stress associated with quitting.  For the first time however, researchers say exercise helps smokers quit by making cigarettes less attractive and less powerful in grabbing smokers' attention

Lead author, University of Exeter PhD student Kate Janse Van Rensburg said: "We know that smoking-related images can be powerful triggers for smokers who are abstaining. While we are no longer faced with advertisements for cigarettes, smokers are still faced with seeing people smoking on television, in photographs or in person. We know that this makes it more difficult for them to quit."

Twenty moderately heavy smokers abstained from cigarettes for 15 hours before the trial.  They were shown smoking-related and neutral images and then spent 15 minutes either sitting or exercising on a stationary bike. Afterwards, they were shown the same images again while researchers used eye-tracking technology to show the length of time they looked at smoking-related images and how quickly pictures of cigarettes grabbed their attention, compared with non-smoking images. The study showed that after exercise, participants took longer to look at smoking-related images. Researchers concluded that exercise appears to reduce the power of smoking-related images to grab visual attention.

This research supports other studies done at the University of Exeter on the benefits of exercise in smoking cessation. They've concluded that when smokers abstain from smoking, exercise can help them manage withdrawal symptoms and resist the urge to smoke. A single bout of moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk lasting for as little as five minutes, was sufficient to reduce cravings, stress, anxiety and poor concentration.

The National Institute on Drug Addiction says, "Research is currently under way to determine if and how exercise programs can play a similar role in the treatment of other forms of drug abuse."  Addiction specialists often recommend exercise as part of a treatment plan to improve mental and physical health and wellbeing. 

How about other bad habits like overeating or alcohol abuse?  Successfully changing any habit means replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones.  Exercise is good for everyone, no matter how old or what your current health status is. If you want to quit smoking, hit the treadmill, bike or gym.

Talk to your doctor before you start any health program but know that positive change will come your way.


Resources: http://www.scientificblogging.com/news_articles/exercise_may_help_you_quit_smoking

Science Daily http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090210092738.htm