Exercise makes cigarettes less attractive to smokers

Oct 26, 2009
Exercise makes cigarettes less attractive to smokers
Tempted to light up? A short burst of exercise may help cut your cravings.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Exercise can help smokers quit because it makes cigarettes less attractive. A new study from the University of Exeter shows for the first time that exercise can lessen the power of cigarettes and smoking-related images to grab the attention of smokers. The study is published in the journal Addiction.

The study involved 20 moderately heavy smokers, who had abstained from cigarettes for 15 hours before the trial. During two visits to our laboratory participants began by being shown smoking-related and neutral images, and then spent either 15 minutes sitting or exercising on a stationary bike at a moderate intensity. Afterwards, they were again shown the images.

While the participants were shown the images, the research team used the latest eye tracking technology to measure and record their precise eye movements. They were able to show not only the length of time people looked at smoking-related images but also how quickly pictures of cigarettes could grab their attention, compared with non-smoking matched images.

The study showed an 11% difference between the time the participants spent looking at the smoking-related images after , compared with the after sitting. Also, after exercise, participants took longer to look at smoking-related images. Exercise, therefore, appears to reduce the power of the smoking-related images to grab visual attention.

Numerous studies have shown that a single session of light to moderate intensity exercise, for example five-15 minutes of brisk walking, can reduce cravings and responses to smoking cues. This is the first time eye-tracking technology has been used to show that exercise can reduce interest in and salience of smoking cues that, outside the laboratory, may cause lapses and among smokers trying to quit.

Lead author, University of Exeter PhD student Kate Janse Van Rensburg said: "We know that smoking-related images can be powerful triggers for smokers who are abstaining. While we are no longer faced with advertisements for , are still faced with seeing people smoking on television, in photographs or in person. We know that this makes it more difficult for them to quit.

"Because of this, it's very exciting to find that just a short burst of exercise can somewhat reduce the power of such images. It is not clear if longer or more vigorous bouts of exercise have a bigger effect. This study adds to the growing evidence that exercise can be a great help for people trying to give up smoking."

Source: University of Exeter (news : web)

Explore further: Number of takeaway outlets in deprived areas increases substantially over two decades

Related Stories

Exercise effective in helping pregnant women kick the habit

Sep 23, 2008

Exercise could be a useful tool in helping pregnant women to give up smoking, according to new research published today in the open access journal BMC Public Health. Despite the warnings, 17% of women in the UK and 20% of ...

Not ready to quit? Try cutting back

Dec 07, 2006

In a review article in the December Nicotine and Tobacco Research, researchers at the University of Vermont have found an unexpected, effective alternative to motivate smokers to quit smoking – cutting back. According to ...

Recommended for you

Soldiers cite 'Medic!' as a top hearing priority

3 hours ago

'Medic!', 'Hold fire!' and grid references are amongst the highest priorities for soldiers to be able to hear while on duty, according to new research from the University of Southampton.

New measures identified for newborn care in Uganda

4 hours ago

In Uganda, child mortality rates are improving, but progress is slower for deaths occurring in the first four weeks of life, or the newborn period, and for stillbirths. But recent evidence from local researchers ...

Should men cut back on their soy intake?

6 hours ago

Recently, a friend called my husband to inquire about the risks for men in consuming too much soy milk. He had read an article that described how one individual's plight led him down the path of breast enlargement, and was ...

Probing Question: What is umami?

7 hours ago

The next time you're at a dinner party and want to spice up the conversation, you might compliment the hosts on their umami-rich appetizers. Then wait a moment until someone invariably asks, "What's umami?"

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

otto1923
not rated yet Oct 26, 2009
I wonder if part of the appeal of tobacco is that it reproduces the effects of exercise to a certain extent in the body: it increases blood pressure, accelerates breathing to compensate for reduced capacity, loads tissues up with toxins, stresses the body's systems in general, mimics the rush of endorphins ('runners high') by reducing withdrawal symptoms.... naw, smokers are super-addicts, I'm just rationalizing.
QUIT

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.