Smoking is a dangerous habit that causes many severe illnesses. Yet, despite all the warning signs, advertisements, and PSAs saying “smoking can give you cancer,” many are still drawn to this habit and can’t seem to let go.
You might think staying physically active is a smart way to offset your cigarette intake. But, if you continue to smoke, you still put your body at risk for many chronic diseases, meaning no amount of workout can steer you off that course.
So how much does smoking affect your physical activity? It might get you finally to quit when you read the following.
How Smoking Affects Physical Activity
Studies found that smokers perform poorly in physical activities compared to non-smokers. They have low endurance and an increased rate of injuries and complications during workouts. So, when you exercise but still smoke, you continue to put your body in danger.
Nicotine and carbon monoxide, both dangerous compounds found in tobacco, could thicken your blood in your arteries, reducing blood flow to different body parts. This condition makes it harder to perform well in various physical activities, not just in sports.
Resting heart rate is another thing to worry about, too. It’s how many beats per minute (bpm) your heart produces when you’re not doing any activity. If you smoke, you increase your resting heart rate, which could increase your bpm to a dangerously high level that, in some cases, could lead to death.
Smoking also harms your lung capacity, which is vital to do physical activities better. It damages your airways and alveoli or air sacs, which are needed to deliver oxygen efficiently. Therefore, smokers run out of breath faster than non-smokers as they do their workouts.
Other effects of smoking on physical activities include:
- Fewer full benefits from a workout
- Requiring more time to heal injuries
- Inability to run as far
- Low back pain
Why Smokers Have a Hard Time Quitting
One significant reason why smokers have a hard time quitting is nicotine, the addictive compound found in tobacco that’s responsible for that uplifting feeling every time you smoke. Nicotine changes so much in the brain that it becomes dependent on it. So much so that when you stop smoking, you become more irritated. That means your brain’s craving for nicotine and trying to work without it, making a person all riled up. Due to this, people who quit cold turkey experience withdrawal symptoms more because of how abruptly they deprive their brains of nicotine.
While your brain tries to accept how to function fully without nicotine, your body, too, will need to get used to the new routines that don’t involve smoking. These routines, unfortunately, contain a lot of triggers that you have to power through. For example, if it’s a habit to smoke while taking breaks, drinking a cup of coffee, or finishing a meal. Emotions can also trigger smoking, and it’s not always when you’re stressed. People also smoke when they’re happy to feel more uplifted.
Quitting smoking isn’t easy. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a step-by-step quitting guide to help smokers carefully approach quitting and avoid a relapse during the process. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to support your cigarette aversion.
Exercise as a Way to Aid Smoking Cessation
Exercise more while you’re trying to quit. It’s an excellent distraction while resisting the urge to smoke. Plus, it promotes the release of endorphins, a happy hormone that helps alleviate stress and anxiety, which is excellent for managing some nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
It is not a requirement to be a fitness enthusiast just to reap the benefits of exercising. For instance, walking alone helps suppress cigarette cravings by clearing your mind from the overwhelming thoughts that push you to smoke. So, instead of going for that cigarette break, you can walk around. There’s no required routine, either. You can come up with your own and do it at your own pace.
If the cravings persist, try supporting your exercise with healthier substitutes, like cannabidiol (CBD) cigarettes. CBD cigarettes use hemp instead of tobacco, and they offer the same sensation of smoking without any harmful compounds like nicotine or carbon monoxide. They’re safer and legal to use since they contain little to no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or the drug that produces the psychoactive effects.
Smoking and physical activities may not blend well together, but exercising and quitting do.
Take Care of Your Body, Quit Smoking Today
Smoking brings a lot of significant damage to a person’s physical and mental health. Quitting is critical to reducing the number of deaths per year caused by tobacco. It can be painstakingly long, but thankfully, there are many methods and alternatives to help you in your quitting process.
Besides alternative products and various support systems, being physically active can also help distract the mind from cigarette cravings while maintaining a healthy body.
Take care of yourself, and don’t be an addition to the increasing number of lives taken by cigarettes.