Can Exercise Help To Quit Smoking?

-By A. Scott Roberts
M.S. Rehabilitation Counseling, Addiction Specialist

Research has shown that exercise can improve your chances of successfully quitting smoking (as well as other addictions).1 Most know that exercise improves general health and well-being. But the reason that exercise contributes to successful quitting is because it boosts blood to the brain.

When you are experiencing cravings for your cigarette, the last thing you probably think of is going on a run outside or hopping on the treadmill. But doing something that actively engages you, such as running, goes far beyond distracting your mind off of cravings, but may actually heal the addicted brain.

“Exercise needs to be maintained for individuals to continue to kick the habit.” (source: Harry Prapavessis / Director of Health Psychology Laboratory)

Researchers have shown that exercise promotes neurogenisis (birth of new neurons).2

Smokers, and other addicts, often suffer from a less-efficient reward system caused by the repeated over-stimulation from the addictive substances. As a result, the brain stops producing natural neurotransmitters and often has malfunctioning or diminished neurons.

Here is a video explaining the process of how the reward system becomes less-efficient:

Exercise boosts blood to the brain and can repairs receptor cites. Exercise, coupled with evidence-based techniques to cope with addictions such as smoking, are supremely beneficial.3

-A. Scott Roberts
 M.S. Rehabilitation Counseling
Addiction Specialist

1. University of Western Ontario. (2010, January 20). Sweating out the cravings. ScienceDaily.
2-3. Van Praag, H., B. R. Christie, T. J. Sejnowski, and F. H. Gage. (1999). “Running Enhances Neurogenesis, Learning, and Long-Term Potentiation in Mice.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 96:13427–13431.

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