Brain Hack: Exercise to manage cigarette cravings & improve life

by Steven McDaniels
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Being a smoker today can be quite inconvenient. Many workplaces and hospitals around the country now ban smoking on the premises. Throughout our nation, being a smoker has become a stigma and draws dirty looks. Meanwhile, a pack of cigarettes today can cost as much as a lunch. Many people don’t realize that exercise can help them deal with smoking cravings. Internal motivation combined with targeted interventions, such as exercise, can lead to a smoke-free life.

Exercise can literally change your life.

It is a well-known fact that smoking is a difficult addiction to overcome. The pull of the craving can be unbearable, especially while dealing with the stresses of everyday life. Only about 5 percent of those who quit are successful on their own and will stay off the smokes for more than six months. Interventions such as counseling, health education, and medication dramatically improve your chances of quitting long term. Yet, combining these interventions with fitness can help you manage cravings even better — thus greatly improving your success.
After exercise, you feel a reduction in cravings. Exercise can also be used during a craving to combat it. It would only take a brief bout of moderate exercise for 5-10 minutes. Taking a brisk walk or even doing exercises in a chair can satisfy this. Exercise helps shift your attention away from your craving and improves your mood bringing you one step closer to beating the craving. The exact mechanisms by which exercise helps manage smoking cravings is not completely understood, but exercise affects the neurobiological processes of the brain, and it increases beta-endorphin levels.


Steven McDaniels
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