Blog for the week
One of the top things…no actually THE number one thing I hear from patients regarding strategies for stopping smoking is physical activity. That’s right folks, physical activity. Sometimes people shy away from physical activity because they think it means that word we spend New Year’s Day thinking about, and the other 364 days of the year trying not to think about…exercise. Well for some people it does, but for many of us it doesn’t have to. The amount of physical activity needed is like walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes. That’s it.
First off, why does physical activity help when stopping smoking? Well it provides a boost of endorphins in our brains. Those are the “feel good” chemicals that can increase our pleasure, help us relax, and just generally improve how we feel. Secondly, you get the bonus of being distracted. It is easier to do something than it is to not do something I like to tell people. What I mean is that it’s easier to not smoke if you are engrossed in a project or activity than it is to sit quietly and think “I’m not smoking, I’m not smoking, I’m not smoking…”
So where does that leave us? Well some of us enjoy going to the gym, running, lifting weights, setting rep and set goals, and then challenging ourselves or our friends to meet or beat them. If so, good for you! However, I’m more interested in talking to the rest of us, those who have occasionally joined a gym only to be so sore after a day or a week that we don’t return for months. You know who you are!
For those of us in this second group of workout wannabes, let’s redefine what we are talking about. Physical activity is much different from exercise. Take 20 seconds to think about ways that you are physically active during the summer.
Okay, did you think about it? Here’s what I came up with. Walking, mowing, gardening, berry picking, bike riding, playing baseball, football, volleyball, golfing…just to name a few. That is my list, now create and use your own.
The point here is that you can utilize natures wonderful gift of warm beautiful weather and extra hours of daylight to help yourself stop your tobacco use. Identify the things you do already or things that you would LIKE to do, and incorporate them into your daily activities. Time to get busy…FORE!
Dr. Richard D. Hurt is an internationally recognized expert on tobacco dependence. A native of Murray, Kentucky, he joined Mayo Clinic in 1976 and is now a Professor of Medicine at its College of Medicine. In 1988, he founded the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and since then its staff has treated more than 50,000 patients for tobacco dependence. Send your questions directly to Dr. Hurt at AskTheExpert@becomeanex.org