Many people perceive smoking and exercising to be on either ends of the scale. On one hand smoking is known to cause respiratory and cardiac issues, and on the other hand, exercising is known to increase lung capacity and oxygen flow through the blood.
Understanding this, it might seem strange to some for both topics to be spoken about within the same context.
Going to your public football pitch or sports facilities, it wouldn't be strange to see certain people smoking before or after they engage in a sporting exercise, and it begs the question- why smoke when you are partaking in physical activity which improves fitness and respiratory function. This gesture would seem to undermine the purpose in undertaking such an activity.
It is reported that those suffering from anxiety or depression are more likely to step out for a smoke compared to regular smokers with no mood problems. It is then not a surprise that those with mood/mental ailments find it harder to quit smoking as much as they may want to. The cravings, cold sweats, and sleepless night are known to accentuate any residual mental issues, which may have them rushing back for a lighter as soon as possible to alleviate such worries.
Studies have shown though, that increasing the levels of exercise per week has been known to help reduce the compulsion to reach for a cigarette. By choosing to walk to certain places rather than use the car or bus, even by riding a bike, or playing football, smokers may experience reduced withdrawal symptoms when looking to quit.
Paquito Bernard of Montpellier University, who carried out a study into smokers with depressive disorders, concluded that " exercise interventions decrease the intensity of withdrawal symptoms" and may also " provide a useful strategy for managing withdrawal symptoms in smokers".
The need to stop smoking is important, now more than ever especially due to the sedentary lifestyles we now live compared to decades ago. Increase in fast food consumption, interconnectivity and the ability to 'pop out for a smoke' when required contribute to a bigger health threat. With over 90,000 smoking related fatalities reported in the UK each year, the increased risk of cancer, coronary heart disease and overall toxicity to the body, any help to stop smoking should be utilised to its fullest, whether medical or physical.
Although more research is necessary to understand the specific long-term effects of exercise on smoking cessation, it is safe to say that anything that can provide an edge in the battle to stop smoking is worth trying out. It is worth considering when looking at quitting smoking.
Is it generally better to be a non-exercising smoker? Or an exercising smoker?
Since i stopped smoking i've noticed a big difference in my breathing etc when i run. I don't think you can play sports to your best ability if you are then smoking off the pitch as it effects your stamina and lung capacity so badly.