Smoking. We know it’s bad for our health, detrimental to our lung capacity, our mental state, our physical appearance and cancer causing. To add to the ever growing list of reasons to quit, a new study has even found that people find smokers less attractive with a whopping 70% of women identifying smokers as less desirable (without even knowing they were smokers... they could just tell!). Yet a staggering 2.6million Australian adults still light up at alarming rates.
And we get it, quitting can be hard. However in another case of science to the rescue, researchers at St George’s University in London have identified a simple, free and highly effective aid in the battle against nicotine addiction: exercise.
The effectiveness of physical activity as a method of quitting lies in its ability to dull the nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
"Our research has shed light on how the protective effect of exercise against nicotine dependence actually works," said Dr Alexis Bailey, a Senior Lecturer at the University. The researchers also identified an increased activation of the a7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in the brain when smokers exercised, which in simple terms, is the target of nicotine. These are the receptors that get fired up by a smoking hit, and then crave more once you’re done. By activating these receptors through exercise instead of through smoking a pack of ciggies… well you don’t have to smoke a pack of ciggies!
"The evidence suggests that exercise decreases nicotine withdrawal symptoms in humans,” explains Dr Bailey.
Moderate intensity exercise is all it takes to deliver these sensations to the brain, releasing the grip nicotine has on your brain. So instead of lighting up, lace up and hit the road for 30 minutes each day, breaking the addiction cycle and upping your fitness at the same time. Win. Win.