Smoking :: A short walk helps smokers quit

Smokers should do short bouts of exercise to help them resist the temptation to light up, say experts at the University of Exeter. A review, recently published in the international journal “Addiction,” concludes that when smokers abstain from smoking, exercise can help them to manage withdrawal symptoms and resist the urge to smoke.

All 12 studies reviewed in the paper showed that a single bout of moderateexercise, lasting for as little as five minutes, was sufficient to reducecravings for a cigarette. Exercise, such as a brisk walk, also reducedwithdrawal symptoms, including stress, anxiety and poor concentration. Thelead author, Dr Adrian Taylor of the University of Exeter’s School ofSport and Health Sciences said: ‘If a drug revealed the same effects itwould immediately be marketed as a valuable aid to help people quitsmoking or cut down.’

On UK National No Smoking Day (14 March), one in three UK smokers – about 4millionpeople – are expected to take steps towards giving up, with about 85,000quitting for good. ‘People who struggle to give up smoking could makethings much easier for themselves by taking just moderate exercise,’ saidDr Adrian Taylor. ‘Not only may it help prevent weight gain but it willalso help control the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that often lead torelapse.’

Dr Taylor and his team at the University of Exeter are conducting ongoingresearch with brain imaging. They hope to find out how exercise affectsthe mood centres of the brain, which in turn reduces the appetite for acigarette. They are also seeking to build exercise advice into existingNHS smoking cessation clinics in a nationally funded project called’Walk-2-Quit’.

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