Physical Activity Helps Pregnant Women Quit Smoking, Study Finds

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in pregnancy, quit smoking

The 3 Week Diet

And 5 Other Benefits of Exercising to Smokers

There’s vast scientific evidence showing that cigarette smoking during pregnancy may not only pose health risks to the mother but also to her child. Research has shown that children born of smoking moms are at greater risk of developing mental health problems, such as retardation and low IQ, along with weak immune system.

Since most pregnancies are unplanned, smoking is discouraged among women in the child-bearing Beautiful-pregnant-woman-at-gy-38581273age. And because most smokers develop nicotine addiction, quitting at any time can be a struggle. Pregnant women who smoke, in particular, may experience more troubles because they also have to cope with the discomfort brought by the hormonal changes that come with pregnancy.

Exercise may help pregnant women quit smoking

Because of their condition, pregnant women who smoke may not be allowed by their doctors to take prescription medications and other pharmaceutical treatments to quitting smoking. Fortunately, there’s a better, safer and healthier way to curb their nicotine cravings, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Western University in Ontario, Canada, have found that simply walking for 10 to 20 minutes is enough to ward off nicotine cravings. The study involved 30 pregnant British and Canadian women in their second trimester. All of them smoked five cigarettes a day and were not regular exercisers.


For the study, half of the women were assigned to walk on a treadmill for 20 minutes whilst the rest simply watched a video on gardening. All of the participants did not smoke for 15-19 hours before entering the lab.

Findings revealed that walking helped pregnant smokers ward off nicotine cravings. Smokers who were assigned to the walking activity reported an average of 30 percent reduction in their smoking urges, compared to those who only watched video clips. What’s more, ‘walkers’ also experienced significant decrease in irritability, restlessness, tension and other symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.

More Benefits

If you want to increase your chances of quitting smoking, you may consider incorporating exercise in your daily lifestyle. Whether you’re pregnant or not, young or old, man or woman, physical activity can ease the quitting process in several ways.


1) Exercise creates brain changes favorable to quitting smoking. In 2009, scientists from the University of Exeter found that changes in the physical structure of the brain, which are triggered by exercise, may help reduce cigarette cravings. Their findings back up a growing body of research suggesting that exercise could be a powerful tool in managing addiction to nicotine and other substances.


2) Exercise boosts quit smoking success rates. Investigations show that smokers who enroll in fitness programs have higher quit smoking success rates than those who retain a sedentary lifestyle. A survey by Gallup University in 1996 found that tobacco users who exercise were twice more likely to quit.

3) Exercise prevents quit smoking-related weight gain. Many smokers who quit struggle with weight gain issues. The good thing is that exercise, aside from cutting nicotine addiction, may also help smokers avoid gaining excess fats as they gradually withdraw from their habit.

DID YOU KNOW?

A study revealed that walking helped pregnant smokers ward off nicotine cravings. Smokers who were assigned to the walking activity reported an average of 30 percent reduction in their smoking urges, compared to those who only watched video clips.

4) Exercise speeds up healing. Exercise is one of the best ways to restore your health after you quit smoking. It can speed up the healing and recovery of your lungs, heart and other organs affected by smoking.

5) Exercise makes quitting less stressful. Many smokers fail in their attempt to quit because the cessation process can be quite stressful. Exercising triggers the release of endorphins – the feel-good chemicals in the brain that contradict stress and improve mood and well-being.

An effective quit smoking program is one that involves regular physical activity. By being more active, you can increase your chance of quitting smoking on your first attempt, and at the same time, speed up your recovery from the life-threatening effects of smoking.

The 3 Week Diet

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