We all know that smoking is bad for us. It is the lead cause of a lot of types of cancers and is responsible for many respiratory and cardiovascular issues.
Most people who smoke started smoking when they were teenagers. Those who have friends and/or parents who smoke are more likely to start smoking than those who don’t. Some teenagers say that they “just wanted to try it,” or they thought it was “cool” to smoke. While others started smoking to cope with life stress or work stress. Whatever be the reason, no matter why you started or why you still do it – it is not doing you any good.
It is a complex addition that you should try to break away from. But quitting smoking is not that easy. As it gets ingrained into our lives and becomes a natural part of our everyday routine, it becomes really difficult to stop doing it. The emotional, social, and physical triggers make it a challenge. When you quit, you have to navigate through an unknown realm of various types of challenges that you did not even think about. In addition to all this, nicotine addiction poses another set of challenges that makes you more likely to fail at quitting. Now that quitting brings so many types of challenges, how can only one method help you stay away from it?
Hence, it is important to follow a holistic approach when trying to quit smoking. You need to indulge in several activities or make a list of complimentary things that help you deal with the various types of challenges that come with quitting. For example – if your doctor prescribes you Nicotine Chewing Gum to manage the nicotine cravings, you need to make additional adjustments to your life so that you do not relapse. These adjustments depend on multiple factors like your lifestyle and triggers.
But there is one thing that will definitely help all the quitters – physical exercise. Irrespective of your age or gender or your lifestyle. Physical exercise is one such activity that can help everyone quit.
As already mentioned, quitting is more than just managing the nicotine cravings. It is about tackling all the behavioral and psychological aspects of smoking habits. Physical exercise is one such activity that helps mitigate both physical and psychological aspects of nicotine withdrawal.
1. Managing nicotine cravings – nicotine, when consumed makes the brain release the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters called serotonin and dopamine.These chemicals make you feel relaxed instantly or relieve the ‘stress’. But this feeling is short lived and you eventually start craving this ‘high’. When you do not smoke, your body starts experiencing nicotine withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, depression, lack of concentration and so on.
When you exercise, your body also releases endorphins that also help in managing these feelings and hence, you are able to manage the cravings in an efficient manner.
2. Stress Management – stress is one of the most common triggers that make people smoke. You must have noticed people craving for a cigarette after a hectic meeting or day.
Exercise acts as a powerful stress reliever. This is because of the endorphins that get released in the body when you exercise. These chemicals help in reducing the tension and hence help in managing stress better.
3. Mood Elevation – Apart from elevating tension, regular exercise also helps in elevating the feelings of depression or anxiety. It helps in promoting good ‘mood’ and energy levels. This positive effect of exercise is very much important when you are trying to quit smoking.
4. Weight Management – People often complain about weight gain when they are quitting smoking. This generally happens due to unnecessary snacking. Regularly exercising during the quitting phase helps in burning these extra calories and helps in managing weight.
5. A Great Distraction – On top of all this, exercising is a great way to keep your mind engaged and distracted. Trust us, you will need a lot of this when trying to quit. You need to keep your mind invested in things that do not make you want to smoke. And exercising can really help on this front.
6. Improved Sleep – Regular exercising also has a positive effect on sleep patterns. This is also required when you are trying to quit as one of the nicotine withdrawal symptoms is sleep disturbance. When you sleep better, you are more likely to be in a better mood and be in a better mental space to fight off the nicotine cravings.
7. Overall well being – At the end, physical exercise is good for your overall body. It helps in improving your lungs strength and improves blood flow throughout the body. This also improved the body’s immune system. It reinforces a healthy lifestyle and boosts self-esteem. This physical fitness goes a long way and keeps you healthy for a long run.
In the end, it can be concluded that exercising is a great companion for other smoking cessation aids. It acts as a powerful outlet for stress and helps in developing a healthy lifestyle. All of this works together to help you achieve your goal of living a healthy and smoke free life. You can choose any physical activity that you like. It does not necessarily have to be going to the gym everyday. Even indulging in jogging or swimming can help you. The point is do something that you enjoy. This way you will not get bored and feel excited while doing this.
Additionally, you can also find some companions to go for that evening jog or swim. This will also create a sense of companionship and push you towards not missing your sessions.