How Exercise Can Help When You Stop Smoking
Exercise can help your health in many ways, but how can exercise help you stop smoking. What should you focus on, how do you get started and what should you look out for?
How smoking affects the body
Smoking can also create an excess of carbon monoxide in the bloodstream. This forces the heart to work harder and faster. It also increases the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Smoking also has very negative effects on your bones, skin, teeth, and throat.
It can weaken the muscles controlling your oesophagus, which connects your mouth and stomach.
Smoking also weakens your bones and may eventually cause osteoporosis (weaker and brittle bones).
However, smoking is also very dangerous to your throat. Cigarette smoke lingers around your throat for long periods of time and is responsible for a vast majority of throat diseases.
There are many chemicals in a cigarette that when the throat comes into contact with them, there can be major consequences, such as throat cancer.
In terms of your physical fitness, there are many other changes that directly affect our blood and oxygen flow. Smoking narrows the blood vessels that distribute oxygen throughout your body.
Smoking also makes your blood thicker. Though all of the body is affected by smoking, the lungs are one of the organs most directly affected.
Lung capacity after quitting smoking
You may be in a rush to get to your fitness routine. But, as with starting any workout routine, it’s important to start slow and ease yourself into it.
Remember, your lungs are not the same as they were before you took up smoking. So, your lung capacity may also be different.
Smoking can decrease lung capacity drastically, meaning the amount of oxygen your lungs are able to hold is much less.
The effect on blood vessels, by smoking, makes distributing oxygen throughout the body more difficult.
Less oxygen flows throughout your body, your lungs will adjust and only hold what is needed or used. Over time, breathing will become harder and strenuous.
The lungs function is to eliminate carbon dioxide, by quitting smoking you have already helped them function better. Many major studies have determined the benefits that quitting smoking has on lung function.
The lungs bring oxygen into the lungs and into the blood, and you are going to get more of it now that you have quit smoking. Regular exercise helps to strengthen your lungs, as it allows them to bring more oxygen into the body and remove waste products.
Following a fitness plan
Everybody starts somewhere and each individual’s journey is different. The recommendation is starting with learning your limits. A good starting point is to test overall health. How much damage has been done? what’s your lung capacity as a starting point?
It’s a great idea to get an evaluation by your doctor to determine if your body is healthy enough to engage in vigorous activity.
Once you know how much activity your body can handle, start with what your Dr has recommended. There’s no reason to delay, decide on what you would like to do and go for it!
Start off slow
While you get back into exercise, remember to start off slow. If you try to do too much too fast, your risk of injury increases. You risk of injury is higher because the body is not used to being so active. Start off slow and increase intensity as you improve.
It’s important to remember that smoking affects the whole body, not just the lungs. Start off with walking. Cardio is a great choice, try and go for a brisk walk for approximately 30 mins.
The type of cardio doesn’t matter
Cardio can have a major benefit to help strengthen the lungs and help recovery for ex-smokers. Any type of cardio can make a difference, as long as it is intense and long enough to allow you to break a sweat.
It is very important to help you recover from smoking over a long period of time. You should do cardio for around 30 minutes for a minimum of three times a week.
It’s good to push and challenge yourself past your comfort zone, but you need to be careful to avoid injury until you are fully adjusted and used to exercising fully again.
Exercise to reduce weight gain
Ex-smokers often complain of weight gain after quitting smoking. Weight gain isn’t a direct side effect of quitting. The weight gain comes not so much from quitting smoking.
Nicotine acts as an appetite suppressant. It does not take much of a small increase in daily consumption to put on that weight. Some smokers just feel more hungry after they quit smoking, the main reason for this extra hunger is that nicotine was acting as an appetite suppressant.
Weight gain also comes because smoking creates a habit of having something in your hand. Now you have quit smoking, but you still have this habit. Many former smokers look for ways to replace this habit, food is often the choice.
A lot of times quitters turn to something that they’re eating or something that they’re bringing into their diet. By accident, they literally replace one addiction with another.
On average ex-smokers can gain five to ten pounds after deciding to quit. If you’ve been exercising but you’re not seeing the weight loss results you want, give it time but if you are putting weight on, look at your diet.
Take note of your diet, especially your snacking habits and look for areas where you are snacking for the sake of having something in your hands.
Patience is key
Remember, how exercise can help when stop smoking, it will take some time for your body to adjust and get stronger. You already started the recovery process by simply quitting smoking and starting to exercise.
The body recovers as soon as 20 minutes within the last cigarette and gets healthier each passing day without smoking. For example, one day after not smoking your risk of a heart attack goes down since good cholesterol is no longer being damaged, your blood pressure decreases, and oxygen levels rise.
Ten years after quitting, one’s chances of lung cancer, as well as other diseases, are reduced by almost half.
Adding a fitness plan can speed up recovery and help increase lung capacity and oxygen flow. It takes about 90 days to change. It takes a year for your body to accept that change as permanent.
Be patient and listen to your body. As always, be sure to check in with your Dr before starting any kind of fitness routine after quitting smoking.