Including exercise in your quit smoking plan can help you get through withdrawal and cravings.
Making physical activity part of your routine gives other important benefits too, such as:
- Reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer
- More positive mood
- Increased energy
- Better sleep
- Improved stress management
How much physical activity do you need to get the most benefits? That may depend on what you want to achieve. To reach and stay at a healthy level of fitness, experts recommend:
Get Your Heart Pumping
Cardiovascular exercise is an important part of any exercise routine. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five or more days a week. Or at least 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity three or more days a week. Don’t have 30 minutes a day? Studies show that exercising for 10 minutes three times a day gives the same benefits as 30 minutes of non-stop exercise. You don't need fancy equipment for cardio exercises. Plenty of cardio exercises rely only on your body, such as jumping jacks. Brisk walking, running, dancing, jumping rope, swimming, and cycling are other cardio exercises you might try—indoors or outdoors, alone or with friends.
Improve your muscle tone with strength training. Aim for 8–10 resistance exercises on two or more days a week. Resistance exercises use an opposing force to increase muscle size and strength. Dumbbells or barbells are commonly used for resistance exercises. You also can use your own body weight, bricks, bottles of water, or any other object that causes your muscles to contract. Include a set of exercises for each major muscle group: arms, legs, back, and chest. Each exercise set should include 8–12 repetitions. That means lifting and lowering the weights 8–12 times slowly. As you get stronger, you might want to work up to two or three sets of exercises for each major muscle group.
Stretch and Connect with Your Body
Stretching can improve your flexibility and balance. It also can help you perform better and reduce your risk of injury during other activities. When done safely and properly, stretching can help relax tense muscles and create a sense of well-being. You can stretch anytime, anywhere. Try for 20–30 minutes of stretching activities two or three days a week. Stretch each of the major muscle groups.
Take a Stand for Health
Recent studies show that sitting for a long time is bad for your health, even if you exercise regularly. Sitting too much has been linked to heart attacks, heart disease, and death from cancer, although experts aren’t sure why. Here are a few simple ways you can reduce your sitting time and maintain your health:
- Break up sitting times. Try to get up and move around about every 30 minutes or so.
- Stand when you can. If you work in an office, try a standing desk. More workplaces are making standing desks available to employees.
- Give yourself reminders to sit less. At home, get out of your chair briefly at every TV commercial.
- At work, use a smaller coffee cup or glass so you need to make more trips for refills. Or schedule several walking or standing meetings a week.