Smoking and Athletic Performance - A Guide to Stop Smoking

It may sound obvious about not smoking if you exercise but there are people who eat healthily, drink in moderation, take plenty of exercise but still continue to smoke.

This means that they are undoing all that good work.

Exercise has a range of positive effects which include increased lung capacity, a healthier heart, lower blood pressure and an overall sense of wellbeing.

Smoking does the opposite of all of these so it is hard to imagine why anyone would negate these positive effects. But human beings act in a variety of ways which are difficult to fathom.

So what does smoking do when you exercise?

Smoking has a range of adverse affects on your body during exercise which includes:

  • Reduces endurance levels: it reduces stamina levels and your ‘staying power’.
  • Increases the strain on the heart: smoking reduces oxygen uptake to the heart which means that your heart has to work even harder to supply you with sufficient oxygen and nutrients during exercise.
  • Prevents fat burning: this can only take place if there is sufficient blood supply to the tissues of the body. Smoking impairs this function which can prevent fat burning.
  • Prevents muscle gain: muscle mass is increased as a result of old muscle fibres tearing themselves and then repairing to become stronger and thicker than before. But smoking reduces this ability which then reduces the chance of muscle gain.
  • Restricts the airways leading to a shortness of breath: cigarette smoke can narrow the airways to the lungs which impairs your breathing. This leads to a shortness of breath.

Basically, if you smoke then you will not be as fast, fit or strong as your non-smoking competitors.

If you are trying to give up then embarking on an exercise programme will help. Exercise causes the release of endorphins – a type of hormone which makes you feel good which will also help you to stay positive whilst trying to quit smoking.

If you have smoked for years and are new to exercise, or are returning after a few years out then start slowly. Speak to your GP before you start and build up slowly.

For more information on this and the type of help available, visit our Stopping Smoking section.

Problems with smoking - Guide to Stop Smoking Index:

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