Quit Smoking to Benefit your Health and Meet your Exercise Potential
Posted Nov 21 2012 6:47am
Smoking isn’t just a drain on your finances, it’s a drain on your body too. The health consequences of smoking are well publicized, so there are many benefits that you can gain by you quit smoking; some sooner than you might realize – from the day you give up beneficial changes occur in your body. It’s not easy to kick the habit – after all smoking is very addictive – but you can add years to your life and put life in those years by taking action to stop smoking. Here we look at the positive impact on your body and your ability to work out when you quit smoking; a reminder that it’s not just your lung health that improves.
In less than two weeks of being smoke free you will be able to feel for yourself how much your breathing has improved, which will make further progress in the coming weeks and months; exercise will certainly be much easier and shortness of breath will be less of a problem. When you no longer smoke your lung capacity increases allowing you to take in more air with each breath, increasing your body’s oxygen intake – within 12 hours away from cigarettes, oxygen levels in the blood have returned to that of a non-smoker – which is essential for the survival of every cell in the body, so every organ –made up of cells – sees the benefit. The increased supply of oxygen to your muscles also means that they will tire less easily, as the muscle cells are able to respire at a higher rate for longer. After ten years being smoke free your risk of lung cancer falls to half that of a smoker; the benefits of smoking on cancer risk are well documented
Quit smoking to improve your blood flow
Smoking narrows the arteries, but going smoke free allows them to begin the process of widening again, increasing blood flow to all areas of the body. Your risk of coronary heart disease is reduced –in only a year of kicking the habit your risk falls to half that of a smoker and within 15 years your risk is similar to a non-smoker. However, in the shorter term you will notice the benefit of increased blood flow to the muscles for the delivery of oxygen and nutrients for respiration; your muscles will be able to exercise for longer
Quit smoking to strengthen your bones
Your bones are being constantly broken down and renewed and weight bearing exercise such as jogging, skipping and steps help to stimulate bone formation. When the chemicals in cigarette smoke are processed by the body, free radicals are generated – fragments that attack cells, including those which create new bone. The same chemicals also interfere with the amount of estrogen produced – a female hormone that helps to maintain healthy bones – increasing the breakdown of bone. When you stop smoking, both problems are a thing of the past, helping to maintain the strength of your bones and consequently reducing the chance of you developing osteoporosis – a disease where bones become brittle and fracture more easily. Should you break a bone, now that you no longer smoke, the improved blood supply to your bones creates an environment that promotes the healing of bone, allowing you to return to activity sooner
Stop smoking to boost your immune system
Exercise is beneficial for the immune system, but smoking works against this. A smoker is more vulnerable to infections, but when you quit smoking, your immune system is strengthened, as it no longer has to neutralize the effects of free radicals; your white blood cells can then turn their attention to their intended role of fighting infections. Smoking increases your body’s requirement for Vitamin C, a vitamin pivotal to immune function, so being smoke free allows more Vitamin C to be put to work where it is required
Improve your mental health when you quit smoking
The improved blood flow to the brain once you give up smoking increases concentration, alertness and can reduce the incidence of headaches; all essential to remain focused during activity. Once your body is free from nicotine, your stress levels are also lower, as although nicotine gives short-lived relief from anxiety, the time either side of each cigarette results in stress. Everyone knows that exercise is a great way to improve mental health through the generation of endorphins, so quitting smoking can work alongside this
Stop smoking to improve your senses
Two days after you quit smoking, with the harmful chemicals removed from your body, the nerve endings in your tongue and nose are able to grow again. As a result your sense of taste and smell begin to return, so food becomes full of flavor once more and a reduced appetite is but a memory; eating a well balanced diet and sufficient food is obviously essential to achieve your training goals. Maintaining your sight will be crucial to continuing all the activities that you enjoy and your eye health also improves on stopping smoking; you are less likely to develop cataracts, optic neuropathy – a disease of the nerves of the eye – or macular degeneration – where the tissues lining the eye breakdown. The nerve endings in your hands and feet can also recover on kicking the habit, helping to preserve your sense of touch, without which exercise can become more difficult
Improve your oral health when you quit smoking
When you stop smoking increased blood flow to your gums reduces the risk of gum disease and tooth loss; your risk of mouth cancer also falls. Not only that but your breath will be fresher and you will start to lose the staining from your teeth, making you look and feel more attractive.