Exercise Can Help

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Harvard Medical School

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Exercise Can Help

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Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health, regardless of whether you smoke or not.
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Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Exercise Can Help
 
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health, regardless of whether you smoke or not. Exercise improves your heart and circulatory system, your bones, your lungs, and all other aspects of your health.
 
And if you are a smoker who is trying to quit, you may want to engage in some new activities to take your mind off of smoking.
 
Smokers who incorporate exercise into their cessation program increase their odds of quitting more than twice of those who don't exercise. In fact, exercise is a useful outlet for getting over any drug addiction.
 
Here are some benefits exercise brings to someone attempting to quit smoking.
  • It will deter you from smoking. (You can't smoke and swim, can you?)
  • You are likely to gain less weight.
  • You will have more energy (to fight the fatigue you may experience when you first stop smoking).
  • Exercise reduces stress.
  • It may reduce nicotine cravings.
  • You will notice the benefits of cessation — better breathing, better endurance — earlier than you would notice them if you weren't exercising.
  • Exercise will give you more confidence.
  • Exercise increases mental alertness.
How Much? How Soon?
 
You should consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program, particularly if you have diabetes, if you have heart disease, or if you are a long-term smoker. Make sure you choose exercises that you enjoy and that are appropriate for your skill level. If you have never exercised, walking would be a good start. But if you are pretty fit, you may want to try something more strenuous.
 
The more active you are, the greater your chance of successfully quitting. Even stretching and yoga are beneficial.
 
Start slow, if you haven't been doing any exercise. Your first session may be just 10 minutes. Getting started is often the biggest challenge. Over time, increase the duration and intensity of your workouts. Your goal is at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week. If you aren't fit, give yourself time to build up to this level. You may find it easier and more enjoyable if you have an exercise buddy. Give someone on your support team a call to see if they'll join you.
 
Exercise is a great healthy habit to engage in as you say goodbye to your bad habit.

 

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Last updated June 03, 2014


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