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We've talked before about how smoking is bad for your health and the best ways of getting fit, but this time we wanted to focus more on why smoking prevents you from getting fit.
Aerobic exercise is the term for what is commonly called ‘cardio’ or ‘cardiovascular’ exercise. This can be a little misleading, but both names for this type of exercise indicate what our body is doing when we get our hearts racing.
The ‘Cardiovascular’ part tells us our heart and circulatory systems are in use, and ‘Aerobic’ means ‘with oxygen’. Therefore, to exercise safely, our lifestyle needs to look after our lungs - for getting oxygen - and our circulatory system - for delivering oxygen to the muscles.
Smoking tobacco though reduces our ability to use these systems to their maximum potential in several ways. In this article we focus on how smoking affects your body during exercise and makes all the effort you put in less meaningful.
Carbon Monoxide in Cigarettes
When you smoke, we inhale carbon monoxide into the lungs, and from there, the 4000+ chemicals in cigarettes and the carbon monoxide gets into our bloodstream. The carbon monoxide then sticks to the blood cells, taking up space that was meant for oxygen - very bad news for the cardiovascular system!
If you aim to perform your best, the reduced oxygen delivery to the muscles will prevent you from achieving your body’s full potential.
After all every cell in our body needs oxygen for energy and to re-grow and heal. If cells don’t get enough oxygen they won’t be able to work as hard as they could.
Tar from Cigarette Smoke in the Lungs
We all know that tar is also one of the substances that we inhale with cigarette smoke, and this sticks to our lungs, reducing the surface area for oxygen in the air to enter our blood. This has a similar effect to the carbon monoxide - it reduces the amount of oxygen our blood can carry.
However unlike carbon monoxide which blocks oxygen for a little while tar is more long lasting. Tar will stick to your lungs for months and block oxygen getting into your lungs the whole time.
In addition to the tar, there are over 4000+ chemicals and more than 50 carcinogens in cigarette smoke, illustrating how smoking often leads to lung cancer. With unhealthy lungs, exercise is not only more challenging, but more dangerous too.
A Cardiovascular System under strain
Smoking causes our heart and circulatory systems to work harder because the oxygen carrying capacity is reduced. The other chemicals in cigarettes also contribute to this by damaging your blood vessels, so putting further strain on the heart.
All this leads to higher blood pressure (or hypertension) and a faster heart rate when you are resting. The narrowed blood vessels and thicker blood struggle to deliver enough oxygen to the body, as well as increasing the risk of a stroke or brain aneurysm.
When you exercise, you make matters worse by demanding your body to work harder - the higher blood pressure and increased heart rate heighten to potentially dangerous levels, increasing the risk of heart attack.
We all know the exercise adage ‘no pain, no gain’ and this is really about pushing yourself to get the most out of your exercise. It can be a much slower process to reach your goals if it is unsafe to push yourself to your limit.
The Solution is to Quit Smoking
So does that mean that there is no hope for smokers? If you smoke, should you exercise? While it would be sensible for any smoker to be careful if they are just starting on their road to a healthier body, there are several things to consider.
Exercise is a great way to help you to quit smoking - it helps your body deal with the stress and the cravings, so make sure to include light exercise in your daily routine. Just don’t push yourself too hard, give your heart and lungs a chance to build up to strenuous exercise.
How E-cigarettes can Help
Making the switch to E-cigs can also help - E-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than cigarettes according to Public Health England - the UK’s government health agency.
The 4 ingredients found in SMOKO’s UK made E-Cigarette liquids are propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, flavouring and the nicotine itself. That means there are no carcinogens, no tar, no smoke! Making the switch from cigarettes to e-cigs eliminates the most harmful effects of smoking tobacco.
In addition, E-cigarettes are almost twice as effective as ‘stop smoking’ tools like patches or gum, so making the switch could see you through to stopping altogether! Your exercising body will thank you for it!
Check out the SMOKO E-Cigarette Starter Kit range today!
*2022 Update - Now you can get a SMOKO E-Cigarette Starter kit for FREE when you purchase a box of E-Cigarette refills! (1 per customer)