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Yoga reduces cigarette cravings and jogging does too, according to a study from the USF Moffitt Cancer Center published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.
The best thing a cigarette smoker can do to improve their health is quit. Nearly 70% of cigarette smokers in the U.S. say they want to quit this unhealthy habit, but considering nicotine “may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine or alcohol,” conquering cigarette cravings is frequently a difficult task.
Fortunately, researchers from the University of South Florida (USF) announced that leading a healthier lifestyle by adding yoga and exercise to your weekly routine naturally curbs the urge to smoke after just one day.
What Is a Smoker?
For the purposes of studying the effects of yoga and jogging on cigarette cravings, the researchers defined a smoker as “a person who has smoked at least 10 cigarettes per day for at least one year and is not trying to quit.” They split a diverse group of 76 male and female smokers between the ages of 20 and 45 (79% white, 14% African-American, 11% Latino, and 3% Asian) into three groups:
- A Hatha yoga group
- An aerobics group
- A control group
How To Reduce Cigarette Cravings, Step-by-Step
If you want to reduce your cigarette cravings just like the participants in the study, be a copycat and do the following,
- Don’t smoke for 60 minutes before your yoga or jogging session
- Warm-up for 5 minutes
- Do Hatha yoga (the study’s participants followed a video) or jog (the study’s the participants exercised on a treadmill) for 50 minutes, at a pace that induces a heart rate within 65% to 75% of the maximum recommended for your heart range
- Finish your yoga or jogging session with a 5-minute cooldown
The Benefits of Doing Yoga To Reduce Cigarette Cravings
Here is a list of the results of The Moffitt Cancer Center study. Spoiler alert, yoga and jogging positively affected mood, too:
- Completing one, 50-minute yoga class or jogging session significantly reduces cigarette cravings, but only for the first 20 minutes after exercising
- Smokers in the Hatha yoga group reported a general decrease in cravings
- Joggers showed a reduction in cravings response to smoking cues
- Both yoga and jogging produced a substantial elevation in good mood
- Both yoga and jogging decreased negative mood
Alternative Ways To Increase Your Chances of Quitting
Yoga reduces cigarette cravings and jogging does too, but those aren’t the only natural ways to increase your chances of quitting smoking. Several psychosocial methods can significantly increase your chances of quitting with or without smoking cessation medications, according to a review by Dr. John R. Hughes from the Psychiatry Department of the University of Vermont:
- Behavioral therapy increases your chance of quitting smoking 1.5 to 2.1 times
- Support from a quitting buddy increases your chance of quitting smoking approximately 1.5 times.
Yoga Reduces Cigarette Cravings, Jogging Does Too!
1. Elibero, Andrea; et al. “Acute Effects of Aerobic Exercise and Hatha Yoga on Craving to Smoke.” Nicotine and Tobacco Research August (2011): Online.
2. Hughes, J. R. (2012). Motivating and Helping Smokers to Stop Smoking. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 12, 1053–1057.
3. U.S. Centers for Disease Control – Fact Sheet – Smoking Cessation – Smoking & Tobacco Use. (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
-Lady w/cigarette photo by LaFleur