Home & FamilyHealth & FitnessStop Smoking: Get Fitter

Stop Smoking: Get Fitter

Smoking damages and weakens our lungs. Lung capacity reduces with age naturally, but smoking bolsters that reduction dramatically. A 60 year old who has never smoked will typically still have 100% lung capacity (it begins to decline around that age), while a 60 year old who has smoked all their life will have around 50% lung capacity. The lungs are responsible for our breathing: without them, we can’t breathe; damaging them impairs that function disastrously. As well as leading us to be more prone to lung disease, asthma and pneumonia, impaired lungs effect our fitness and our ability to exercise.

smokingImage Source: Flickr


A study examined what the particular factors were that led to a decreased fitness from smoking. It examined the relationship between smoking status and exercise activity as well as Physical Readiness Test performance in 3,045 Navy personnel. The study found that smoking was associated with lower exercise levels and lower physical endurance, both cardiorespiratory (1.5 mile run) and muscular (sit-ups). There was no direct relation found between smoking and body strength or body fat, but it is easy to imagine how these will be affected as the smoker’s ability to exercise is reduced, potentially leading to obesity.

How Does Smoking Damage Our Lungs?

Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, many of which are highly toxic. The two main poisons, though, are tar and carbon monoxide. Tar sticks to the lungs, blocking the cells and getting into the blood vessels, leading to the kind of images you see all over smoking paraphernalia these days. About 70% of the tar in cigarette smoke ends up lining the lungs. Carbon monoxide mixes with haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying part of our red blood cells, and morphs it into carboxyhaemoglobin, which effectively disables the haemoglobin and prevents the cells from being able to carry oxygen. Combined with all the other muscle and blood-impairing toxins in cigarette smoke, such as nitrogen oxide and hydrogen cyanide, and your body is left partially paralysed.

What Happens When We Stop Smoking?

Just 24 hours after stopping smoking, carbon monoxide levels are almost completely gone and the lungs begin to clear out all the tar debris. 2 to 12 weeks sees blood circulation pick up, and after just 9 months lung capacity has improved by 10%. After 15 years the risk of a heart attack is the same as one who has never smoked. All of these things will free up your body and enable you to exercise to its fully capability, giving it the right attention it needs to become healthy and strong.

Also, smokers tend to use vaping as an effective method during the battle to quitting smoking. There are vast amounts of eliquid flavours available which makes it easier to accommodate to your taste buds. Vaping has become a popular option in the fight to quitting smoking and also a fashion trend.

It is strongly advised that you seek help to give up smoking. A smoker using an NHS stop smoking service is around 3 times more likely to stop than those who go cold turkey. Of those, 60% of them are currently using e-cigarettes, which are the most popular form of nicotine replacement therapy. For more information on how to give up visit your local NHS stop smoking service for free and make the first step towards a happier, healthier you.



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