Most people are aware of the benefits exercise can have on one’s health and overall well-being. For instance, exercise lowers blood pressure, strengthens your heart, increases lung capacity, strengthens your immune system, decreases your LDL, and increases your flexibility, stamina, and mobility. However, smoking after a workout or some type of exercise can actually reverse the positive effects one gains from exercise. For example, smoking increases your LDL, also known as bad cholesterol, and it raises a person’s heart rate and blood pressure. Inhaling cigarette smoke increases phlegm build-up in the lungs; essentially reversing the benefits exercise gives you. The nicotine from cigarettes constricts blood vessels, which results in reduced blood flow to the heart and makes the heart work harder than necessary.
After a workout, a person’s heart rate is much higher than usual and breathing quickens; therfore, the heart needs a large amount of blood and oxygen to recover. Inhaling cigarette smoke narrows air pathways, reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, and makes it more difficult to breathe. Cigarettes reduce the body’s oxygen by replacing it with carbon dioxide, so the heart is forced to pump harder to supply the body with the proper amount of oxygen needed. In addition, nicotine works as a stimulant which also elevates a person’s heart rate “beyond the already raised levels produced during exercise.” Smoking can also increase feelings of lightheadedness and impaired motor functioning that might already exist after exercise. Past research indicates that exercise may be positively related to a boost of energy. On the other hand, smoking after exercise can possibly contribute to feelings of fatigue rather than feeling more energized.
Researchers conducted a study at Yale University to evaluate the effect smoking had on muscle glycogen recovery from exercise. The study’s findings conclude that between one and four hours after exercise the glycogen synthesis in muscles was impaired in smokers when compared to nonsmokers. Also, previous research shows that smokers tend to have lower physical endurance compared to people who do not smoke. Exercise and training is shown to improve one’s maximal oxygen uptake by up to twenty percent; however, smoking can reduce this positive effect by up to ten percent.
A study on 1232 subjects ages ranging from twenty-two to twenty-eight years old was conducted in order to observe the consequences smoking has on a person’s respiratory functioning. The participants who smoked up to five or more cigarettes a day experienced wheezing, waking up with a cough, breathlessness, and persistent coughing following exercise. The subjects in the study who smoked less than five cigarettes a day experienced several of the symptoms including wheezing and coughing. In addition, smokers had a lower forced expiratory volume (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) than non-smokers by about 0.8%.
If you currently smoke and are looking for cessation treatment, Southern Methodist University is offering a free program and research study in the Dallas community. If you wish to quit smoking, please call Quit Smoking Dallas at 214-768-7848 or complete the online survey to see if you are eligibile to participate. The online screen can be found at quitsmokingdallas.com.
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