Take a brisk walk before lighting up
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Take a brisk walk before lighting up

Exeter : United Kingdom | Aug 27, 2012 at 7:18 AM PDT
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Reduce nicotine cravings through physical activity

An analysis of clinical trials reveals nicotine cravings can be used just by getting up and moving.

University of Exeter researchers led by Dr. Adrian Taylor, PhD, professor of Exercise and Health Psychology and is the Director of Research of Sport and Health Sciences, discovered that a round of exercise reduces nicotine cravings but will this provider smokers with a better chance of not lighting up is still unclear.

View slideshow: Exercise to kick the habit

This study is the first meta-analysis of experimental trials examining the acute effects of short rounds of physical activity of the strength of desire and desire to smoke using individual participant information write the researchers.

This study combined results from 19 small clinical trials that tested the immediate effects of exercise on nicotine cravings. The participants in the studies were not on a smoking cessation program or used nicotine replacement products due to the fact these products reduce cravings.

Participants in the studies were randomly assigned to participate in one of two things; exercise which was mostly brisk walking or bicycling or a laid-back activity such as watching a video or sitting quietly.

The research had revealed those participants who were in the active group of exercise reported less cravings to smoking than previously.

Dr. Taylor commented "After exercise, smokers reported about one-third lower cravings compared with being passive, “according to media reports. Why exercise had reduced the cravings is unclear. However, Dr. Taylor suggests one reason may be that exercise works as a distraction by possibly boosting people’s mood so the desire to feel better through smoking is not as strong.

In the conclusion researchers had written “There is strong evidence that physical activity acutely reduces cigarette craving.”

Dr. Taylor did note that smokers who using smoking cessation products like the patch or medications, exercise may not be as effective. Dr. Taylor points out smokers often gain weight when trying to quit which is one reason why smokers return to smoking especially women.

The researchers did note that regardless of a high degree of between study diversity such as only a handful of participants, all primary studies were in the same direction with physical activity demonstrating a greater reduction in cravings compared to controls.

Researchers recommend for smokers trying quitting trying some combination of therapies such as nicotine replacement and behavioral counseling.

This study appears in ‘Addiction.

In April of this year study presented at the World Congress of Cardiology meeting, presented by Dr. Chi Pang Wen, MD, MPH, professor at the National Health Research Institute and China Medical University Hospital in Taiwan, also showed that exercise can help when it comes to quitting smoking.

The study consisting of 434,190 people in Taiwan that tracked their health habits from 1996 to 2008. The results revealed smokers who got 15 minutes of exercise daily had 55% greater chance to quit smoking in comparison to smokers there were inactive. Also, smokers that were active were 43% less likely to relapse when they did quit.

For those smokers who just cannot quit still have health benefits with exercise. Dr. Wen conducted a study in 2011, of 416,175 individuals (199,265 men and 216,910 women) participated in a standard medical screening program in Taiwan between 1996 and 2008, with an average follow-up of 8·05 years. The results revealed those smokers who had physical activity 30 minutes daily had an increase in their life expectancy by 3.7 years.

Dr. Wen said just 15 minutes a day of walking six days a week will improve the health of smokers.

That study appeared in the Lancet.

Exercise appears to help smokers when it comes to lighting up but it is not only effective for adults but teens as well.

Debbie Nicholson is based in Detroit, Michigan, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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