5 Reasons to Quit Smoking

Millions of Americans try to quit smoking every day.
Millions of Americans try to quit smoking every day. (Cpl. Salvador R. Moreno/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Are you trying to quit smoking? Have you attempted to start up a workout program but just cannot start a cessation program for smoking? Millions of Americans smoke cigarettes, and millions are trying to quit every day. This week's email comes from a smoker who performs quite well on PT tests in the Army, is a healthy eater and non-drinker, but just cannot stop smoking.

The Army sergeant writes:

"I live a healthy lifestyle. I work out, eat well and don't drink alcohol, but I cannot quit smoking even though I know it goes against all my good activities. Do you have any luck with helping people quit smoking?"

I have trained many people to lose weight, get fit for duty and eat better. Every now and then, I encounter a client who prefers to smoke, even though he is running more than he ever has in his life and working out more with weights and calisthenics. If I had a 100% proven remedy for helping people stop smoking, I probably would be retired right now and living on my own island.

The best I can do for people who smoke is offer my experience with training people to live more active and healthy lifestyles -- which smoking is not a part of. There are many positive immediate and long-term benefits to exercise as well as quitting smoking:

Feeling better

This is the most important benefit to living a healthy lifestyle. This requires people to create a habit of daily exercise, drink water, and eat more fruits and vegetables than processed or fatty foods. By just quitting smoking, you will feel better and have more energy to do the things you like to do.

Look better

When you exercise, you lose inches where you do not want them and you gain inches where you do. Burning fat and building muscles will make you look better and feel better in and out of your clothes. By quitting smoking, your skin is clearer, breath is fresher and hair is healthier.

Live longer

According to the 2004 Surgeon's General Report, every smoker lives on average 13-14 years less than non-smokers. And the last few years of a smoker's life are usually plagued by battling cancer, heart disease, strokes and lung disease. More than 440,000 deaths occur each year due to these smoking-related ailments, which is more than 100 times the number of deaths caused by terrorists in a year period. How about a war on smoking?

Immediate and long-term benefits

Quitting smoking and starting an exercise program have immediate and long-term benefits by reducing the risks for the above diseases and improving general cardiovascular health.

Better physical performance

Though there are some -- like the Army sergeant who is performing well physically and is still a smoker -- it typically does not last long. As your body ages, the long-term effects of smoking will catch up to you, and you will be more susceptible to bronchitis and pneumonia, which will affect cardiovascular performance.

Plus, you will become winded just walking up stairs. This is an indicator that you are out of shape and either need to quit smoking or start exercising more.

I am sorry I do not have an answer to people quitting smoking. The people with whom I have been in contact and have been successful have quit cold turkey, used the nicotine gum or patch, or created a limit to the number of cigarettes they had per day and reduced it over a one- to two-month period.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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