We all know smoking is terrible for our health, yet so many of us still decide to light up despite the many risks it involves, including heart disease and lung cancer. But for those who are addicted to smoking, there’s hope, and it comes in the form of exercise.
A new study based in Taiwan has shown that exercise can help make quitting smoking easier, and even sliding back into the habit far less likely.
The study monitored the health status and daily habits of 434,190 people in Taiwan between 1996 and 2023, and found that smokers who exercised even 15 minutes a day were 55 percent more likely to quit smoking than people who weren’t active in the slightest. And that for those were were able to quit, researchers found that they were 43 percent less likely to take smoking back up in the future.
The primary reason exercise helped smokers kick the habit was that it distracted them from thinking about the everyday need to smoke. But smokers should still be aware that while the ideal solution would be to quit entirely and begin a frequent exercise regimen, exercising too much while still smoking can actually do damage to their health. It’s been found that during exercise, smokers can experience such symptoms as fatigue, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and shallow rapid breathing.
This is because cigarettes affect our body in the exact opposite way exercise does, as it cancels out all of the hard work we are doing during a workout. And it doesn’t just apply to heavy smokers. Studies have also shown that people who smoke only on occasion are still preventing their organs from performing at their top condition.
In other words, smoking is bad, but it’s especially inconducive for an active lifestyle as it increases the risk of injury, and decreases the body’s ability to recover quickly and completely from a workout.
The new study suggests that 15 minutes of exercise is safe and healthy for smokers, and that sticking to moderate activities is best. Chi Pang Wen, a professor at the National Health Research Institute and China Medical University Hospital in Taiwan who presented the study’s data, recommended walking for 15 minutes a day six days a week to improve overall health and life expectancy.
Wen also found that ex-smokers who walked for 30 minutes a day were able to reverse the long-term effects of smoking and increase their life expectancy by 5.6 years on average, as well as reduce their risk of death by up to 40 percent. DietsInReview.com’s Certified Personal Trainer, Kelly Turner, recommends walking as a great form of moderate exercise and healthy way to battle a craving. “Getting some fresh air into your lungs and your blood pumping with a quick, brisk walk is the perfect way to clear your head and get some exercise,” says Turner.
The overall message? Quit smoking. And in the meantime, exercise to improve your health. Even as much as 15 minutes of activity a day is better than nothing.