Making any lifestyle change can be tough, especially when it comes to eliminating something addictive such as cigarettes. To achieve success in quitting an unhealthy habit, there needs to be a willingness to try out different strategies, and ultimately to find a healthier replacement for your behavior. It takes a lot of courage, but also requires motivation, time, and patience.
Is Vaping a Good Alternative?
Some people who are trying to quit smoking try vaping instead. While federal regulators have not approved vaping as a smoking cessation aid, it is nonetheless marketed as a strategy for smokers trying to quit. Although some research supports the use of vaping as a smoking cessation aid, most findings have conflicting results. A European study, for instance, concluded that vaping does not help individuals quit smoking. Instead, researchers said, it’s likely these individuals become “dual-users.” Another study published in PLOS One contends that vaping helps almost nobody to quit smoking.
A Healthier Alternative
A more powerful strategy to help overcome smoking is as simple as getting active. Exercise helps you deal with both the physical and psychological aspects of nicotine addiction. Not only does it act as a great distraction from smoking, it helps curb cravings and enhances your overall quality of life.
What are some other benefits of being physically active while quitting smoking?
- Reduces your nicotine withdrawal symptoms
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Decreases stress levels
- Helps manage weight gain
- Improves concentration
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Improves sleep
- Increases energy levels
- Improves mood
- Improves responsiveness
What are examples of activities that you can do?
- Aerobic exercises, such as walking or running, are easily accessible and you can do them indoors and outdoors, so weather isn’t an issue. Take a walk or a jog at lunchtime or after dinner, perhaps finding a coworker, friend, or family member to join you. Be sure to choose companions who don’t smoke! Gradually lengthen your walks or jogs and step up the pace.
- Think about other activities that you might enjoy, like biking, swimming, dancing, yoga — just about any sports activity will help.
- Consider strength training and lift some weights to boost your energy level when your energy is low.
- Practice yoga or pilates in the comfort of your own home or at a local gym and focus on breathing patterns to help you relax and calm your mind.
- Try signing up for an exercise class or learning a new sport. Or set a goal, such as entering a race or participating in a tournament. The competitive challenge may be just what you need.
- Leisure activities such as gardening and yard work can also help redirect your focus.
Smokers often experience shortness of breath with physical activity. But after you’ve quit, you’ll probably notice that it’s becoming easier to exercise. That’s because your lung function gets better when you’re not smoking. Good luck on your journey to quit smoking and to become healthier!
To learn more about smoking cessation or if you feel sick and it’s not an emergency, please call us at Prosperity Internal Medicine at 703-876-9300 for an appointment. Our group uses the latest advances in medicine, offering our patients access to innovative health management technologies, proactive team-based care, and an evidenced-based, patient-centered approach.