Stop Smoking and Curb Weight Gain

Exercise can help to both maximize your odds of quitting smoking and minimize the weight gain that many quitters dread, according to a study of nearly 300 women smokers.

Half of the women attended weekly behavior modification sessions and got 45 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week. The other half attended the sessions, but went to a series of health education lectures instead of the gym. After 12 weeks, nearly 20% of those in the exercise group were still abstinent, compared to 10% of those who didn’t exercise. And while the exercisers gained an average of 6 pounds, the non- exercisers added nearly 12 Archives of Internal Medicine, June 14, 1999). Exercise may help smokers abstain by easing stress, including anxiety about weight gain, says lead researcher Bess H. Marcus, PhD, of Brown University in Providence, RI.

There’s no reason that you can’t get similar results on your own, says Dr. Marcus. Here’s how:

  • Sign up for a behavior modification-based, smoking-cessation program at your local hospital, or find a book or brochure on the subject. Studies show that behavior modification is key to long-term success.
  • Get your doctor’s permission to start an aerobic exercise regimen. Start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. Slow down if you start feeling short of breath. Stop exercising and consult a doctor if you feel tightness in the chest or other symptoms of cardiovascular problems.

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