Does exercise help with nicotine withdrawal and quitting smoking in general? Let’s find out

How to keep up with exercise

Work, family, and other things that take up your time and energy can make it hard to find the time and desire to work out regularly. People often start an exercise plan, but find it hard to stick with it.

Try some of these easy ways to keep yourself going, have fun, and turn exercise to quit smoking into a good habit:

  • Make an exercise plan for the week. Choose days or times of day that work with your schedule, other commitments, and personal preferences. Hate getting up early? You might not want to book a gym class at 5 a.m. Check your plan every week and make any necessary changes. You might have to change your exercise plan if you get sick, there’s bad weather, or something else comes up that you didn’t expect.
  • Find a motivated exercise partner. Having a dependable and motivated friend or group to work out with can be especially helpful when you first start a routine. Having someone waiting for you can keep you from skipping workouts. Some studies show that results are better when you work out with a friend. Plus, it’s more fun than going by yourself.
  • Register for a race or other event that will give you a reason to train. If you pay an entry fee ahead of time, you’re more likely to go so you can get your money’s worth.
  • Sign up for a charity race or event if you care about a cause or problem. You’ll get in shape and raise money for the charity at the same time.
  • Use an activity tracker or fitness app to measure your progress and hold yourself accountable. There are many tools for tracking that you can use online or on your phone. Visit the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store to look at tools for your smartphone that can help you track your progress.
  • Try something new. Trying a new type of exercise can help you stay motivated to improve your health through movement.
  • Think about the good example you’re setting for your family and friends when you work out often. You might make them want to start working out too.

Be in shape for life

Adding exercise to your plan to stop smoking can help you deal with withdrawal and urges to smoke. Also, if you exercise after you quit smoking, you help your body stay in good shape at all times.

Making exercise a regular part of your life also gives you other important benefits, such as:

  • An overall more positive mood
  • Heart diseases, diabetes, and cancers are less likely to happen
  • You’ll sleep better
  •  You’ll have more energy for day-to-day activities
  • You’ll be better equipped for handling stress

How much exercise is enough to get the most health benefits? That might depend on what you’re trying to do. Experts suggest the following to reach and maintain a healthy level of fitness:

Get your blood flowing

Cardiovascular exercise is a key part of any workout plan. Aim for 30 minutes or more of moderately intense physical activity at least five days a week, or at least 20 minutes of vigorous activity at least three times a week. 

Can’t spare 30 minutes every day? Studies show that working out for 10 minutes three times a day is just as good as working out for 30 minutes straight. For cardio exercises, you don’t need any fancy gear. There are a lot of cardio exercises that you can do with just your body, like jumping jacks. 

Aside from running to quit smoking, you could also try brisk walking, dancing, jumping rope, swimming, and cycling. There are many free workout videos online you can also follow easily at home or some other workout venue. You could do these exercises alone or with friends, indoors or outdoors.

Grow stronger

When you quit smoking and exercise, you always grow better and much stronger than before. Strength training is a way to improve the tone of your muscles. Aim for eight to ten resistance exercises at least twice a week. Resistance exercises use a force that works against you to make your muscles bigger and stronger. Most resistance exercises are done with dumbbells or barbells. 

You can also use your own weight, bricks, water bottles, or anything else that makes your muscles tighten. Include a set of exercises for your arms, legs, back, and chest. Each set of exercises should have 8–12 reps. That means slowly moving the weights up and down 8–12 times. 

As you get stronger, you might want to do up to two or three sets of exercises for each major muscle group.

Stretch out and get to know your body

Stretching can make you more flexible and help you keep your balance. It can also help you do better in other activities and make you less likely to get hurt. When done in a safe way and the right way, stretching can help loosen up tight muscles and make you feel better. 

You can stretch anywhere and at any time. Try to stretch for 20 to 30 minutes two or three times a week. Stretch each of the big groups of muscles.

Stand up for health

  • Studies from the last few years show that sitting for long periods of time is bad for your health, even if you exercise often. Experts don’t know why, but too much sitting has been linked to heart attacks, heart disease, and death from cancer. Here are a few easy ways to spend less time sitting and keep your health:
  • When you can, stand up. Try a standing desk if you work in an office. More and more workplaces are giving their employees standing desks.
  • Break up the time you spend sitting. Every 30 minutes or so, try to get up and move around.
  • Use a smaller coffee cup or glass at work so you have to go back and forth more often to get more. Or schedule several walking or standing meetings a week.
  • Remind yourself to stand up more. At home, get up for a few minutes during TV commercials.

Does exercise help nicotine withdrawal?

Yes it does. By keeping your body busy, you release endorphins — the ‘feel good’ chemicals — that make you feel motivated to keep on exercising. As your dopamine levels become much better, you’ll derive much more pleasure with each workout, allowing you to forget and quit smoking successfully altogether.