Exercise Curbs Smoking Urges

Exercising for as little as five minutes reduces craving for cigarettes among smokers, according to British researchers who reviewed a series of previously published studies.

The Associated Press reported March 13 that the review of a dozen studies on exercise and nicotine deprivation found that smokers who did moderate exercises, like walking or isometrics, reported decreased desire to smoke.

“If we found the same effects in a drug, it would immediately be sold as an aid to help people quit smoking,” said researcher Adrian Taylor of the University of Exeter.

“What’s surprising is the strength of the effect,” said health psychology professor Robert West of University College London. “They found that the acute effects of exercise were as effective as a nicotine patch.”

However, West said it was unclear whether short bouts of exercise would be a long-term solution to nicotine craving, saying that it might have to be combined with other stop-smoking therapies to be effective.

The study was published in the April 2007 issue of the journal Addiction. Reference: Adrian H. Taylor, Michael H. Ussher, Guy Faulkner. (2007) The acute effects of exercise on cigarette cravings, withdrawal symptoms, affect and smoking behaviour: a systematic review. Addiction, 102(4): 534–543.

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