We are now well into the New Year and for many of us, this means our fitness regimes are well under way. All the overindulgence is over and for many of us the detox is in full force, however some of us are still batting to quit smoking and although we know all the health issues surrounding smoking, we could actually ruining our fitness levels. Currently, still 20% of the population are smokers, so now is the time to change this and reach that optimum fitness level.
However, it’s easier said than done.
We all know that smoking leads to an increased likelihood of lung disease and certain cancers, that isn’t always enough of an incentive. So what other reasons are there to bin the cigarettes? Well, one of the biggest is the overall impact on your cardio fitness levels – which are the most common levels to be worked on in gyms and in the fresh air.
The good news is that the very act of exercising has recently been shown to help beat the cravings, hat is the first reason to up the gym time right there. A study by Psychopharamcology found that regular smokers who cycled for 20 minutes at a moderate pace after abstaining for 15 hours, didn’t desire cigarettes as much, mainly because the reward-processing centres of their brains had already been triggered. In effect you do the exercise, feel great for managing it and this makes you happy – so less likely to reach for the cigarettes.
So you can start your bid to quit by simply beginning your fitness journey – yet another reason to renew that gym membership. But what actually happens to your body when you quit and why do your fitness levels improve?
Firstly, you need to know that the nicotine in tobacco smoke is responsible for increasing your adrenaline levels. Adrenaline is the “fight or flight” hormone which increases a person’s heart rate, blood pressure and restricts blood flow to the heart muscle. It also increases glucose levels in the blood. When you inhale, these effects take place very quickly making you feel more energetic but soon die down.
Thankfully, just 8 hours after taking your last cigarette, carbon monoxide levels are reduced by half, 24 hours after carbon monoxide is eliminated, and 2 days after nicotine is gone. You will probably find that this is when cravings can kick in and these can be quite hard to deal with. If you find it really difficult to go cold turkey then nicotine patches or gum can work, and e-cigarettes can be a potentially less harmful option for nicotine intake. As a possible cessation aid try E Cig Atomizers
Smoking also causes a condition called artherosclerosis, a narrowing of the arteries, which in turn affects circulation. As a smoker exercise is made doubly difficult because your lungs aren’t as effective at getting oxygen to your blood and your blood doesn’t transport oxygen as well. Carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke in the blood hinders the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen.
These problems take slightly longer to resolve. 2-12 weeks after giving up, your circulation begins improving. After 3-9 months smoke-free, you’ll be coughing and wheezing less as your lung function increases by up to 10% You can help speed up the process of arterial clearing by taking Taurine supplements as it has been shown to be single best amino acid to reverse the narrowing of the arteries.
The longer you quit the more you can increase your general fitness levels and the more you’ll be inclined to exercise: it’s a happy circle. Start today and, who knows, next year you might be running marathons or climbing mountains. Or just playing catch with your kid.