Have you tried to quit smoking but couldn’t overcome your craving for cigarettes? Even though you may tried over-the-counter and prescription smoking aids without success, there still may be a simple, all-natural way to stop your craving for cigarettes – exercise.
A recent study published in the journal Psychopharmacology revealed that exercise can trigger changes in brain wave activity that reduce the craving for cigarettes. When smokers were shown photos of cigarettes after undergoing an exercise session, they reported a reduced craving for cigarettes when compared to smokers who remained inactive. The change in brain activity was confirmed by doing an MRI brain scan before and after an exercise session.
How does exercise reduce the craving for cigarettes in smokers? Although this isn’t clear, a variety of mechanisms have been proposed. Exercise could act by altering blood flow to certain areas of the brain involved in producing cravings or it could alter the levels of certain proteins known as neurotransmitters that play a role in determining mood. Vigorous exercise has been shown to increase the production of “feel good” chemicals known as endorphins which could play a role in reducing cravings for nicotine.
Exercise may be important in more than one way when it comes to reducing the craving for cigarettes. Previous studies have shown that smokers who start an exercise plan were twice as likely to become ex-smokers as those who remain sedentary. This isn’t surprising since smoking and exercise don’t complement one another. It can be difficult to run three miles when you smoke a pack of cigarettes each day! Exercise can also give a smoker a new focus which takes their mind off of the craving for cigarettes. The quest to get physically fit and lead a healthy lifestyle usually precludes the desire to smoke.
Exercise can also be a boon to a smoker since it reduces the weight gain that occurs when smoking is stopped. Smokers usually gain between five and ten pounds during the first six weeks after becoming an ex-smoker. A regular exercise program can help to offset some or all of this weight gain.
The bottom line? Exercise is a free and all-natural approach to help reduce the craving for cigarettes. Studies suggest that exercise can make the road to become an ex-smoker easier. Why not give it a try before resorting to expensive smoking aids that may have side effects? Plus, it’s likely you’ll enjoy the way you look and feel after you discover the transforming power of exercise.