Summer is right around the corner. Are you eager to start seeing results to get your body beach-ready? If so, there are some bad habits that you’ll need to kick to the curb, including smoking. Smoking not only negatively impacts your workouts. It also has profound impacts on your overall health.
Here’s why quitting smoking may be the key to getting a better workout so that you can see the results that you’re working so hard to achieve.
How Smoking Negatively Impacts Your Workout
Smoking is an extremely deadly habit, even for those who lead otherwise healthy lives. In fact, cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 people each year in the U.S. alone. For athletes and those who routinely engage in physical activity, it’s one of the worst habits to have.
As someone who is active, you need to understand exactly how smoking impacts your workouts, and how quitting can be life-changing both in and outside of the gym.
Lung damage is one of the most notable impacts of smoking on the body. As a physically active smoker, you’ll find that you more easily lose your breath and that it takes longer to catch your breath so that you can continue your workout.
This is because smoking impacts the ability for oxygen to travel throughout the body. Smoking also decreases lung capacity, which can make it harder to get good, deep breaths that are needed during strenuous activity.
Many smokers already experience shortness of breath along with a chronic cough. While these side effects seem like nuisances, they have a huge impact on your workouts. When your lungs are impacted by smoking, your performance will suffer.
Decreased lung capacity means that you’ll need more rest time in order to recover during your workout. It may also mean that you’re unable to do certain cardiovascular activities, as they are too taxing on your lungs.
Decreased Heart Health
Physical activity causes the heart to beat faster. But as a smoker, there’s an increased risk that your heart rate could reach potentially dangerous levels. This is because smoking accelerates the cardiovascular system at rest and when you exercise.
Having a high resting heart rate also increases the risk of:
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart attack
Because of the added stress on your cardiovascular system, it’s important to keep an eye on your heart rate to ensure it doesn’t enter dangerous levels.
When you complete a strenuous workout, your body is sore and tired, sometimes for days after working out. Exercising takes a toll on your body, but when properly taken care of, your body can do everything that’s needed in order to heal and repair itself. But, as a smoker, your body will have a tougher time recovering.
As a smoker, there’s a risk that around 15% of your blood content is composed of carbon monoxide, which displaces oxygen, making it harder to get oxygen to where it needs to go. Carbon monoxide is extremely toxic, and high levels in the body make it much harder for cells to repair. Low oxygen levels also impact nutrient absorption, including protein.
The Benefits of Quitting Smoking
Making the decision to quit smoking will have a dramatic impact on your health. Not only will you be able to improve your performance in the gym, but you’ll also greatly improve your lung, heart, and overall health.
After quitting smoking, you’ll notice that you can breathe better, which means that you can get the most out of your workouts. Quitting will also improve your heart health, which means you’ll experience fewer heart rate spikes, and your resting heart rate will decrease to normal levels.
Giving up cigarette smoking also has notable health impacts. Your lungs will start to repair themselves. Your persistent cough will eventually disappear. Not smoking greatly decreases your risk of chronic respiratory infections as well as serious diseases such as cancer.
Quitting Isn’t Easy, But Keep Exercising!
Ask anyone who has given up smoking, and they’ll tell you that the process is far from easy. In fact, many ex-smokers had to try quitting dozens of times before they were able to be successful. This is because smoking is more than just a bad habit, it’s an addiction.
But if you want to optimize your performance in the gym and get the best results from your workouts, quitting is the best option. Once you’ve decided to quit smoking, have a plan and stick to it. Instead of quitting cold turkey (an option that often fails), consider nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
NRT can help smokers to avoid nicotine withdrawal. There are many different products to consider using, such as nicotine patches and gum, e-cigarettes, and tobacco-free dip, such as Black Buffalo.
Another key factor in a quality smoking cessation plan is ensuring that you stick with your healthy habits. Eating a wholesome diet and routine physical activity will all make quitting a lot easier. Exercise is a known stress reliever as it causes an increase in endorphin levels. Working out will also ward off cravings.