According to a new British study in the journal Addiction, smokers who want to quit or at least cut down their tobacco intake should go for a jog or get some exercise the next time a craving threatens to overcome them.
The researchers, who used data from 19 previous clinical studies, discovered that an exercise session helped those who wished to quit smoking work through and reduce nicotine cravings. However, whether exercise eventually leads to total cessation of smoking remains to be seen as the results were unclear.
“Certainly, exercise seems to have temporary benefits, and as such can be strongly recommended,” said study leader Adrian Taylor, a professor at the University of Exeter in Britain.
In the study, smokers were either assigned to exercise such as brisk walking or biking or to passive activity such as watching a film or quiet reflection. The team discovered that those who exercised had a decreased desire to smoke after a bit of physical exertion.
The exact reason why smokers experienced decreased cravings after exercise is unclear, with some hypothesizing that perhaps exercise simply made smokers feel better or served as a distraction.
The researchers also pointed out that none of the participants in the study was in a program to quit smoking or was under nicotine replacement therapy. Exercise may not have much of an effect on smokers using nicotine replacement products as the nicotine cravings will already be reduced due to the product.