Switching Habits Quit Smoking and Start Moving

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Because nicotine acts as an appetite suppressant, many smokers who try to quit also face the prospect of gaining weight. To increase the health benefits of quitting and also reduce your risk of weight gain, why not put down the cigarettes and pick up good exercise habits at the same time?

Battle the Bulge

As mentioned above, smokers who are trying to quit may gain weight due to the fact that smoking affects your metabolism. It is also common for ex-smokers to want something in their fingers besides a cigarette, which can lead to excessive snacking on junk food. For many smokers, a cigar or cigarette marks the end of meal. Without that cue to stop eating, ex-smokers may continue long past the point of fullness.

The good news is that, within three days of quitting, you will have more energy. Put that excess energy to work and begin a workout plan. If you have been leading a mostly sedentary life with little physical activity, be sure to start slow and not overdo the amount of exertion. Begin with an easier activity such as walking or light stretching. Once you are comfortable with these activities, you can continue with those or move into more challenges forms of exercise such as group sports and strength training. No matter what your physical shape is, be sure to consult with a doctor before starting a new workout regimen.

Along with exercise, watching what you eat will help you stay slim and become more fit as you quit smoking. Rather than reaching for potato chips during your favorite TV show, keep celery or carrots sticks handy. This fulfills the need to have something between your fingers without adding too many calories or fat. Carefully control your food portions so that, when the food on your plate is gone, you have eaten the appropriate amount of calories. This way, you won’t need the cigarette to signal a meal’s end.

Manage Stress

Stress is a factor of everyday life, whether it happens at work or at home. Many smokers list stress reduction as one of the reasons they continue to smoke. Therefore, if smoking is a stress management technique for you, quitting smoking will take away a stress management skill as well as place new stress on you in dealing with nicotine withdrawal and creating a new lifestyle for yourself.

However, regular physical exercise is a great stress management technique. Pay attention to your body to learn whether you are an early riser or prefer to work out in the afternoons or evenings. When you feel a nicotine craving coming on, grab your tennis shoes and go for a walk or practice the calming practice of yoga. Even ten minutes of exercise at a time can help keep stress at a manageable level.

Learn New Activities

Use exercise as a reward for learning to take better care of your body. Have you always wanted to learn how to ski or swing dance? Now’s your chance!

Within three to nine months after quitting, your lung function will be greatly improved and any coughing, wheezing, or breathing problems should be a thing of the past. Plus, with all the money you’ve saved on buying cigarettes, cigars, or other tobacco products, you can afford to join a gym, take some classes, or even splurge on a sports trip for hiking or skiing.

At home, use exercise tapes and books to learn everyday exercises that will increase your aerobic fitness. To keep up your motivation, make plans with a spouse or friend to work out together. Another good way to maintain your drive to exercise is to set goals like finishing a 5k race or making it through an entire kickboxing class without needing to take a breather. When you have achieved one of your fitness goals, pat yourself on the back for becoming a smoke-free, healthier version of you.

The opportunities for physical activity range from equipment-free, low maintenance exercises to options that require a significant amount of equipment and training. Popular activities include:




Team sports




Kickboxing/Martial Arts

Strength training

Ice skating/Rollerblading

Now that you’ve made the decision to quit smoking, taking your fitness goals one step further and get moving at the same time. Starting a new, positive habit to replace the old one will keep your mind engaged and give you a great sense of accomplishment. You’ll also become more fit and healthy in the bargain!

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