Is Exercising During The Tobacco-Free Month A Bad Idea?

As part of the 'tobacco-free month,' people who want to quit smoking are sometimes advised to follow an exercise program at the same time. But does exercising really increase your chances of success when quitting smoking? Scientists have been looking into the issue.

Of course, we do not mean to give you an excuse not to exercise... let alone continue to smoke. But according to a recent study published in the Cochrane magazine, following an exercise program in addition to your efforts to quit smoking would in no way increase your chances of success in becoming a non-smoker again.

As it happens every year in November, many people are taking up the challenge of the 'tobacco-free month,' which is an initiative launched by the NHS. Indeed, nearly 16 million people are smokers in the UK and more than half (58%) say they want to quit smoking but are unable to do so.

Is there a link?

To wean oneself off nicotine, but also to prevent the possible weight gain that sometimes comes with quitting smoking, it is therefore often advisable to adopt or strengthen one's physical activity. But when they gathered the results of 24 studies involving 7,279 subjects, the researchers realised that there seems to be absolutely no cause-and-effect relationship.

'There is no evidence that physical exercise increases the chances of success, at 6 months or more, when quitting smoking. And this is with whatever the type of exercise that has been chosen. [...] We have found no evidence that physical exercise helps people who have quit smoking to stay smoke-free,' wrote the researchers.

These are fairly clear conclusions, but they still have to be taken with some caution. As researchers point out, the chances of success when quitting smoking remain higher when you surround yourself with non-smokers, and when you adopt a healthier lifestyle overall... which inevitably involves regular physical activity. In other words: exercising does not guarantee that you will stop smoking... but it can't hurt.

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