How Exercise Is the Key to Quitting Smoking

Asheville rehabIf you are a smoker then you know kicking this have it can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Smoking is both physically and mentally dictating. Often times, you’ll hear those who quit saying that they have problems finding ways to use their hands, once cigarettes are no longer needed. In addition, cravings for cigarettes can come after meals, as soon as you wake up in the mornings and wake you up at night. If you need help with addiction of any kind, call Legacy Freedom and ask about our outpatient options for Asheville rehab.

However difficult it is to quit though, there is a way to do so and make it successful.  In our previous blog post, we talked about how bad smoking is for your health. It can cause serious diseases and damage your lungs. Quitting is the best way to get your health back, as well as kick your habit. Even if it is difficult, it's worth the challenge in the end.

A study done in London shows that exercise can help smokers quit. While this might seem like an unlikely way to quit, it has been successful.

According to, "Experts at St George's University of London, have examined the mechanism underlining exercise's way of protecting the body against nicotine dependence and withdrawal. The study reveals that even moderate intensity exercise markedly reduces the severity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Researchers also showed there was an increased activation of a type of receptor in the brain called α7 nicotinic acetylcholine, which is a target of nicotine. The findings support the protective effect of exercise preceding smoking cessation against the development of physical dependence, which may aid smoking cessation by reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms."

St George's University of London's Dr. Alexis Bailey states that "The evidence suggests that exercise decreases nicotine withdrawal symptoms in humans; however, the mechanisms mediating this effect are unclear. Our research has shed light on how the protective effect of exercise against nicotine dependence actually works."

Mice were treated with nicotine in this study so that the researchers could determine what happened when they ran continually. The mice had significantly lessened withdrawal symptoms after running for 24 hours a day in a wheel. They even had lessened symptoms after only running for two hours This was compared to a group of nicotine-treated mice that were sedentary.

Withdrawal from nicotine can bring out some very unpleasant symptoms that are very hard to deal with. However, as the study shows, it’s easier to deal with these symptoms by using exercise as a way to treat them. Below, you’ll find a list of the mental and physical symptoms that can come with withdrawal from nicotine.

  • Increase in appetite
  • Anger
  • Mood swings
  • Boredom
  • Cigarette cravings
  • Digestive issues
  • Intestinal cramping
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Loneliness
  • Inability to focus
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Common cold symptoms
  • Sweats
  • Cold sweats
  • Tingling in the extremities

Exercise can help you quit smoking for number of reasons. Below, you will find several of the most important ones.

Those who quit smoking sometimes find that Weight gain is an issue. If you continue exercising throughout your withdrawal, you’ll be able to keep that weight gain at bay. Exercise can help you counteract any calories you may be taking in due to eating more during your withdrawal.

Once you quit smoking, you will find that you seem hungrier. Exercising regularly can help you reduce that hunger level. You will need to eat more to compensate for your increased exercise, but you’ll be able to make choices that are healthier during this time.

Exercise can also reduce stress. Even those who are quitting smoking probably deal with a good bit of stress or anxiety. Smoking can increase both and causes individuals to have trouble functioning properly. Exercise that isn’t too intense can relieve the stress and anxiety. The exercise will release endorphins that help to reduce cortisol.

If you don’t exercise regularly now call me maybe wondering where to begin. Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine can be easy with a few set goals.

In the first week of your decision to start exercising, walk 1 mile at least three times that week. If you’re unable to gauge your distance, walk briskly for 20 minutes each time.

The second week, consider doing a total of four days of walking. Also add in a total body work out twice a week, as well. This could include yoga or Pilates, working out with the trainer at a gym or doing something like CrossFit.

Continue on after the second week building up as much as you can for work out. You may take up running versus walking or spend the majority of your workout time in a jam. Whatever works for you is best. It can take time to realize what your body best responds to. Stick with it and be patient. It’s also important to begin looking at your diet, as well. Start making healthier choices so that you’ll be able to strengthen your muscles along the way.

We hope this information helps your kick your smoking habit quickly and successfully! If you missed our previous blogs, check back to see why smoking can be damaging and dangerous for your health.

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