We are bombarded with the health benefits of exercise and how it is an essential tool for weight management and overall well-being but it could also act as a natural aid to help smokers quit smoking, for good.
The study, conducted in Taiwan, revealed that smokers who participated in moderate activity were 55% more likely to quit than their inactive counterparts and, additionally, they were 43% less likely to relapse after breaking the habit.
The study examined the healthcare data of 434,190 people over an eight year period and has come up with some surprising results, for smokers and non-smokers alike.
The study showed that those participants who became more active and who had quit smoking saw their life expectancy increase by 5.6 years.
However, smokers who didn’t quit had also reaped the benefits of exercise as it increased their life expectancy by 3.7 years.
The findings were presented at the World Congress of Cardiology and one of the researchers, Dr C.P. Wen suggested that if cigarette users can continue to exercise, not only they can increase the quit rate, but also they can 'reduce their mortality for all cause and for cardiovascular disease in the long-run'.
Wen claims that exercising regularly, as little as 30 minutes a day, should therefore be top priority for all smokers wanting to quit.
Dr Fiona Jones of the University of Bedfordshire has suggested a possible explanation for the success rate of quitters that exercise improves mood and reduces stress and so the effects observed in this study might be explained by these mood benefits helping to reduce cravings for cigarettes.
With 69% of smokers in the UK wanting to stub it out for good and the government investing heavily in anti-smoking campaigns and ‘quit kits’, these findings suggest that exercise should form an integral part of the process of quitting smoking and presents an inexpensive aid for remaining smoke free.
Therefore, the government should utilise these findings by promoting the benefit of exercise in its campaigns, not only to quit but to prolong life expectancy.
As research continues, exercise’s natural high could soon replace the gripping and addictive hold of the nicotine fix and keep you on the steady road to a longer, healthier, smoke-free life.