Study: daily exercise can help smokers to kick the habit
Women who exercise are more likely to succeed at quitting smoking, and are less likely to gain weight than female smokers who do not work out, results of a the study suggest.
By the end of a smoking cessation program, 19% of women who exercised three times a week had sustained their abstinence from smoking compared with just 10% of women who did not exercise, according to a study.
“The primary barrier that women report for being afraid of quitting smoking is a concern that they will gain weight,” said researchers from The Miriam Hospital and Brown University School of Medicine, Providence, Rhode Island.
“Other factors that concern both men an women is their level of depression, their level of stress, and their level of anxiety. A lot of people use cigarettes to help them manage their mood, their stress and their weight, so they are frightened to stop smoking,” they added.
“With these data showing that exercise has been helpful in quitting smoking, I would encourage physicians to recommend to all their patients to increase physical activity, particularly those who are working at quitting smoking,” Marcus said.
In the study, 281 female smokers were assigned to undergo a 12-session cognitive-behavioral smoking cessation program plus three exercise sessions and three health lectures each week, or the behavioral program alone.
Sixty weeks after “quit” day, about 12% of the exercise group were still abstaining compared with 5% of the non-exercise group. The researchers tested the women’s saliva to confirm that they had indeed quit smoking.
Researchers also report that although all quitters gained weight, those in the exercise group had gained less weight than other women at the end of treatment. However, this effect was not sustained at the 20- and 60-week follow-ups.
“It wasn’t sustained, but people also didn’t sustain the exercise after the program ended,” researchers said. “So the message there is that exercise works while you keep doing it.”
Even though the intensive exercise and cessation program tested in this trial will not appeal to most smokers, the study’s findings provide adequate evidence to support a recommendation of exercise as part of a smoking cessation program for all patients.
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