What's exercise got to do with staying smoke free? Quite a bit. People who exercise are less likely to smoke. And when ex-smokers add regular physical activity to their lifestyles, they are less likely to start smoking again. When you exercise, you get immediate feedback from your body that you're doing something good for your health. But being active can do far more to help you stay smoke free. Consider these benefits:
Many smokers use weight gain as an excuse to start again. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to prevent weight gain after quitting.
Activity is a great way to relieve stress, a major trigger to smoke. It leaves you feeling relaxed, and it builds your fitness so that you become more resistant to stress. Exercise can also increase endorphins, the "feel good" chemicals in your brain.
Activity improves fitness, your body's ability to use oxygen. So you have more energy. In addition you are more alert and able to concentrate.
Activity improves the quality of your sleep. If you are run down, you are less resistant to smoking triggers. But when you sleep better you will be more resistant to stress. You're also likely to be more productive.
How To Be More Active
If you've heard the phrase, "No pain, no gain," forget it! When it comes to being active, even small amounts of moderate intensity activity – like walking – can contribute to all the benefits described above. The key is to be consistent. The most common excuse for not being active is "I don't have time." It's true that we're all busy. But if you can't find 30 minutes, find 10. If not 10, find 5 - before you go to work, at lunch, or during the worst of TV at night.
The important thing is to get started and to do it consistently. You can increase how much you do later. Put an activity "date" on your daily calendar. What's the best activity? It’s something that you will do. You may like tennis, but are you going to do it daily? That's why the single, most versatile activity is still walking. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes and 5 minutes.