Saturday, 31 July 2021

F Faith and Fitness

Fitness and Smoking

A recent study found that smoking hampers physical fitness (even in young, fit people) and smokers seem to have lower physical endurance than nonsmokers. Even when smokers want to get fit, the task isn’t always easy. Cigarettes push blood pressure up, increase the heart rate and make coughing and choking a real problem.

In essence, you’re poisoning your body with the cigarettes yet expect the same stressed organs to work hard during exercise. This puts a double strain on your heart, blood vessels, pulse, and blood pressure, as well as diminishes the oxygen levels in the blood. Both exercise and smoking affect the same organ systems, but in opposite ways. While smoking decreases lung capacity, exercise increases it. In addition, as smoking increases your risk of having a heart attack, exercise decreases it. And then there’s the issue of phlegm—smoking produces phlegm (which congests the lungs), while exercise breaks it up and rebuilds the lungs.

Smoking decreases the body's ability to absorb oxygen. Even a modest amount of carbon monoxide in the lungs decreases your body’s ability to absorb oxygen. It also decreases the amount of oxygen your body transports to your muscles. Moreover, tar coats the lungs and makes it more difficult to breathe. If that’s not enough, smoking causes a swelling of mucous membranes in the lungs, which also affects breathing. During exercise the heart has to work harder if your smoke. A smoker’s heart rate is elevated. So, when exercise is attempted, the effort seems more arduous and the heart rate speeds quickly. In all, your heart will have to work harder to do the same amount of work a non-smoker does. And, you’ll feel less comfortable doing it. If you’re prone to high blood pressure, smoking makes it worse. You’ll also find that smoking increases your fatigue level during and after your exercise session. Endurance is reduced and physical performance may not improve as much as if you did not smoke.

With all the above negative effects, it’s easy to see that smoking and fitness do not mix. Taper down from the few cigarettes you’re smoking until you can quit completely. You won’t regret it. If you’re a smoker who is ready to start exercising but not quite ready to quit smoking, think about some of the following health benefits of quitting:

Within 20 minutes (of putting down a cigarette) your blood pressure and pulse read “normal."

Within 8 hours the oxygen level in the blood normalizes, carbon monoxide levels go down.

Within 24 hours your risk of heart attack starts to decline.

Within 2 days you can taste food and smell things better.

Within 3 days your lung capacity improves to the point where you can actually breathe better.

Within 3 months your circulation improves and your lung functioning is up by 30 percent.

Within 9 months your lungs are able to clean themselves again and your risk of infection goes

Within 1 year your heart disease risk is now half that of a typical smoker’s.

Within 5 years your risk of stoke is close to that of a non-smoker.

Within 10 years your lung cancer death rate is half that of smokers and your risk of other
cancers goes down as well.

Within 15 years your heart disease risk is the same as that of a nonsmoker’s.

So, the good news is that you can start reaping health benefits the moment you take that last puff. Think about what you can gain—being able to breath fully again; enjoying the taste and smells around you, having a vibrant skin tone; and having more fun with your exercise program. Once you feel the difference, you’ll wonder why you didn’t stop sooner. Do it today, it’s a choice you won’t regret.

Columnist: Kellye Davis Williams


Kellye Davis Stellman is a personal trainer, gym owner, and certified Life Coach who focuses on the health and well being of her clients as well as coaching them to make positive changes that will impact the rest of their lives.  She helps them achieve their health and fitness goals as well as encourages them to strive for and achieve their “life goals” with her message of hope. 

Kellye resides in East Atlanta with her husband Keith.  She has 4 daughters and 3 grandchildren.  She is an active member of The Tabernacle Church.  In her spare time she loves traveling, spending time with her husband and daughters, shopping, and simply enjoying coffee with friends. 



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