Need Stop-Smoking Help? Try Pumping Iron

Need Stop-Smoking Help? Try Pumping Iron

Ready to put down that cigarette? Start by lifting weights or str-e-e-tching resistance bands and you'll double your odds of kicking the habit for good.

You may have heard that adding exercise to a smart "kick butts" plan is a proven crave-crusher. Simply walking every day engages your brain's emotion centers, releasing mood-brightening compounds that dial down tobacco urges. Now we know even more. The news is that making muscle building part of your stop-smoking strategy can help you stay on track for months and keep you from gaining weight while you kick the habit. Big bonus!

Strength training likely helps in the same way other physical activity does: by reducing stress and anxiety when you really want to smoke, and by relieving the uncomfortable effects of nicotine withdrawal. All it takes: two muscle-building sessions a week that target every area of your body -- arms, legs, torso. And you don't even have to go to the gym: Use our 20-Minute Workout (no weights needed).

Start walking and weight work before you crumple up your last pack. At the Cleveland Clinic, where Dr. Mike works, wannabe quitters spend 30 days getting ready by walking and pumping. So set your quit date a month from now. Meanwhile, check your insurance policy to see what stop-smoking aids are covered (counseling? crave-stopping medications like bupropion? nicotine replacements?). Then, see your doc for support, guidance, and maybe an Rx. Enlist friends and family as cheerleaders. Find a quit buddy or two, and invite 'em to pump iron with you. Strength in numbers!

Medically reviewed in July 2019.

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