Can Exercise Help You Stop Smoking?

July 20, 2020

We all know that smoking is bad for you. It is a nasty habit that can be hard to kick. However, having the knowledge of this does not necessarily make it easier to stop. Withdrawal symptoms such as trouble sleeping, irritability and depression can make it especially difficult.

That being said, roughly 70 percent of smokers do want to quit and have quite often tried the many tips and tricks on the market that are supposed to help. There are specialized support networks that can help you give up smoking and manage the symptoms. However, there is often an overlooked method to help kick the habit and that is physical exercise.

Research has shown that exercise can help reduce the withdrawal symptoms of nicotine and of course carries its health benefits.  Even a 10 minute workout can have an immediate impact on reducing your craving.

The beauty of exercise is that it distracts you by keeping you busy until your craving passes, this helps you to deal with the physical and psychological aspects of nicotine addiction. Here is how:

Exercise can minimize nicotine withdrawal symptoms

As mentioned earlier, exercising when trying to quit smoking can help reduce the withdrawal symptoms. The key is to start slowly (especially if you are new to working out), build up your program and listen to your body.

Exercise increases body awareness  

That feeling of working your lungs for every bit of air and exerting your muscles until they burn can help get your mind back in synch with your body. You will start to become aware of the physical improvements quitting smoking has had on your lungs and overall health. This body awareness should fuel your determination and encourage you to carry on.

Working out diminishes stress levels

Lighting up a cigarette has become the go to stress relief fix amongst smokers. However, exercise has long been known for its stress relief benefits. Engaging in exercise and even using it as a tool when you do feel stressed out can see your overall stress levels decrease.

Physical activity increases self-esteem and improves your mood

The endorphins that are released when you exercise can help counteract the moodiness you may encounter when kicking the nicotine habit. Endorphins also have morphine like qualities in that it unleashes positive feelings, making you feel good and boosting your self-esteem.

Ditching an old habit – fill the gap with something else

When kicking any longstanding habit, it is common to feel a void soon after, especially if you do not occupy your time purposefully. What better a deterrent than exercise!

Working out while you stop smoking can fight off weight gain

Sometimes people fill the void (mentioned earlier) with food, and of course the pounds can start to pile on. This is how taking up exercise rather than additional eating can help you fight weight gain. Of course, working out will have you burning the calories anyway, so it works as an additional bonus.

Building a ‘Stop Smoking’ exercise plan

Strength and Cardio training play important roles in your exercise plan for dealing with the stresses of terminating your smoking habits. The immediate payoffs from these types of training can make it easy to see your improvements week by week and month by month from the date of your last cigarette. Personally, I believe HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) might well be a secret weapon to kicking the nicotine.

I suggest no less than 30 minutes of exercise per session, and if you can do this 4 – 5 times a week then you are onto a winner.