Having cravings for a cigarette is one of the most common symptoms of nicotine withdrawal when you quit smoking. It helps to have a plan to manage cravings when they hit. Including exercise in your plan can help you get past cravings.
Exercise can distract you and keep you busy until the craving passes.
Exercise has other benefits too:
- Studies show that even short periods of physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, reduce the urge to smoke. Aerobic exercise is physical activity that makes you sweat, causes you to breathe harder, and gets your heart beating faster. It strengthens your heart and lungs. Walking, swimming, running, dancing, cycling, and boxing are a few types of aerobic exercise.
- Withdrawal symptoms and cravings for cigarettes decrease during exercise and up to 50 minutes after exercising.
- Exercise decreases appetite and helps limit the weight gain some people have when they quit smoking.
- Exercise helps you cope with stress and have more energy.
- Exercise can improve your mood. If you’re feeling low, take a walk, jump rope, or run up and down the stairs.
Here are some tips to get you started with exercise and help you ride out cravings:
- Try to set aside a regular time for exercise that works with your schedule.
- Try for 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Don’t have 30 minutes? Studies show that exercising for 10 minutes three times a day gives the same benefits as 30 minutes of non-stop exercise.
- Do activities you enjoy. Walking is one way of getting more physical activity. You might also think about biking, swimming, dancing, or yoga. Even housework or gardening can provide exercise benefits. Playing music while you clean out your closets will help you step up the pace.
- Build exercise into other activities. Take the stairs at work instead of the elevator. At the mall, use the stairs instead of the escalator. Wherever you go, park your car farther away and walk to your destination.
- Plan activities with family, friends, or co-workers that include physical activity. Maybe a hike or volleyball game.
- Change your exercise routine or try a new activity from time to time so you don’t get bored.