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Want to Quit Smoking? Go for a Walk!

April 25, 2012

The debate has long ended on smoking, and it’s clear that it is very bad for you.  While many know the risks associated with smoking, including heart disease and lung cancer, the urge to smoke is often too great.  Now there’s hope!  A recently published study found that just 15 minutes of exercise can increase your chances of quitting, and can also reduce the chances of starting up again.

The research studied 434,190 people in Taiwan over the course of 12 years and tracked their progress in quitting smoking.  The results showed that people who exercised 15 minutes a day were 55 percent more likely to quit smoking.  For those that were able to quit, they were also 43 percent less likely to start smoking again.

Take things slowly to start.

While it would be ideal to quit smoking right away and get exercising, the study also warns that exercise for smokers can often do more harm than good.  It is important to quit smoking prior to beginning a rigorous exercise regimen, as smoking has the exact opposite effect on the body when compared to exercise.  Since smoking can put the organs at rest, smokers can experience increased blood pressure, fatigue, rapid breathing and elevated heart rates during rigorous exercise, which can damage the organs.  This also includes the occasional smokers, as they too can struggle with the effects of smoking limiting their ability to exercise properly.

If people are struggling to stop smoking completely, it is important to limit exercise to walking 15 minutes a day.  Just walking for 15 minutes can safely help increase the chances for smoking cessation.  Once a person quits smoking altogether, the study found that walking just 30 minutes a day can reverse the long-term effects of smoking and increase their life expectancy by 5.6 years on average.

How does walking help me to actually quit smoking?

The primary reason exercise helped participants quit smoking in Taiwan, was that it distracted them from thinking about the everyday need to smoke.  These short walks can also help people take time away from the daily stresses of life that may cause them to smoke more.  The people who took part in the study felt much better after just 15 minutes of exercise a day and it made it much easier for them to quit smoking.

What is the main takeaway from this study? 

Quit smoking!  Not only are the risks associated with smoking potentially lethal, smoking can also limit your ability to lead a healthy lifestyle.  The study also shows that just walking for 15 minutes a day can have a profound effect on the desire to smoke as well as overall health.

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