DOES VAPING AFFECT ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE?by Dan Overgage
It is well established that athletes and smoking are a bad mix. The impact of smoking on the lungs, heart, blood vessels, and bone density are all negative, but these are vital for athletic performance!
E-cigarettes, by comparison, are 95% less harmful than smoking, according to Public Health England, so does it have the same impact on athletic performance as smoking?
WHAT IS VAPING?
In case you didn’t already know, vaping is the act of using a battery powered device to turn e-liquid into an aerosol, which can be inhaled by the user.
Vaping devices are essentially a battery, a tank for the e-liquid, and a coil to heat the liquid into an aerosol. The sizes, shapes and power of devices vary, but the function is the same.
E-liquid is the liquid mixture that gets turned into an aerosol. It is a mixture made using propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, flavourings and nicotine.
There are likely several reasons why vaping has become more popular than cigarette smoking, the prime reason being that vaping is less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes. There is a huge variety of flavoured e-liquids and e-cigarette refills available, which may make vaping a more appealing choice than smoking.
E-CIGARETTES VS CIGARETTES: HOW DOES IT AFFECT YOUR BODY?
Keeping your body in top form is part of the athlete lifestyle - you know this, being the athlete that you are! Athletes push their bodies to extremes, which requires efficient transport of nutrients and oxygen to the muscles, and lactic acid out from the muscles - much like Royal Mail zipping around the country picking up collections and making deliveries!
A strong heart, healthy lungs, and the ability to recover fast are all prize qualities for an athlete, I’m sure you’d agree! Smoking throws a spanner into the function of all of these qualities:
- Smoking narrows the blood vessels and increases the formation of blood clots, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Tar and other chemicals from cigarette smoke clog up the lungs and damage the airways and lung tissue, increasing the risk of lung disease.
- Increased insulin resistance from smoking slows glycogen synthesis, slowing the muscle healing process.
The advantages for vaping or e cigarettes is that it will affect athletes significantly less than smoking.
- Switching to an e-cigarette improves vascular health within one month of quitting smoking.
- Electronic cigarettes do not produce tar, so the cilia in the lungs regain function and begin to clear debris again.
- Electronic cigarettes do not produce carbon monoxide, so the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood can recover.
VAPING: EFFECTS ON AN ATHLETE
For any young athletes who smoke, switching to a SMOKO E-cigarette is a way to protect or even improve your athletic performance, and will help ensure a lengthy career!
How does nicotine in vape affect the body?
Nicotine is the addictive substance found in tobacco. It is the key ingredient in your e-cigarette refills that satisfies those pesky cravings to smoke, but without most of the negative impacts from smoking tobacco.
A major difference between smoking and vaping is the nicotine absorption - traditional cigarettes have chemicals added that increase the bioavailability of nicotine - that means it increases the amount of nicotine that gets absorbed into the bloodstream.
The alcohol enthusiasts among you may appreciate the analogy of a ‘bomb shot’ or ‘depth charge’ - when you place an alcoholic shot inside another drink, also sometimes alcoholic. It’s a proven method to get to drunky town pretty damn quick! That’s kind of like the nicotine in traditional cigarettes - a double hit!
Nicotine itself acts as a vasoconstrictor - it narrows the blood vessels - and increases heart rate and blood pressure. These same things occur when you engage in physical activity.
As less nicotine makes it into the blood from vaping, it naturally attenuates (reduces) the nicotine level compared with smoking, reducing the drastic impact compared with nicotine absorbed from cigarettes.
Vaping vs cardiovascular health
Vaping with nicotine means nicotine is still coming into the body, just not at the same levels as smoking cigarettes. This means vaping will still increase the heart rate, blood pressure, and constrict the blood vessels - restricting blood flow to a lesser degree.
Vaping athletes can always consider using a nicotine free e-liquid for vaping as this will eliminate the effects of nicotine on the body. This leaves e-liquid containing just propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerine (VG) and flavourings.
A 2018 study examined the toxins produced from nicotine free e-liquid and found that flavourings used in ‘vape juice’ can trigger inflammation, indicating that vaping is not entirely risk free.
This inflammatory response could occur in the airways and lungs, potentially negatively impacting oxygen exchange - which is not a positive for athletes - with chronic inflammation potentially leading to scarring of lung tissue.
Energy and mood
The impact of smoking on energy levels and mood are also negative, so any athletes that smoke know that they should stop smoking to improve performance, and their mindset!
The carbon monoxide produced by burning tobacco binds to red blood cells in the place of oxygen, thereby reducing the oxygen available for reactions in the body and for the muscles to work - this leads to feelings of low energy and fatigue, and can lead to a shortness of breath as the body tries to get more oxygen into the system.
The advantage of switching to vaping for such athletes is that they can still consume nicotine with most of the harm removed. This means improving their health without having to suffer through withdrawal symptoms!
- Stress weakens the immune system, anxiety and depression can lead to insomnia, all of which makes recovery slower.
- Bad sleep leads to poor performance, potentially due to impaired recovery, and a reduced ability to think clearly and react quickly.
- Feelings of anxiety and depression negatively impact your frame of mind, which in turn can hurt your performance.
Swapping out the cigarettes for an e-cigarette will allow for slowly reducing nicotine intake over time. This makes the quitting experience less intimidating, less impactful, and still results in the positive changes that quitting smoking brings!
THINGS TO NOTE FOR ATHLETES WHO VAPE
The reasoning for quitting smoking in favour of vaping is that it is a less harmful option. To ensure we are reducing the harm as much as possible, there are a few notes worth remembering.
Good quality e-liquids
Athletes may be worried about the instances of lung injury caused by vaping - the good news is that these recorded instances have all occurred where illicit substances were added to e-liquids using vitamin E acetate, or from diacetyl (a flavouring) that causes the condition known as ‘popcorn lung’.
Good quality liquids made in countries with strong regulation, like the UK, are essential if you want to be friendly to your body, which is probably a good idea...
Good vape device
Much like any other form of technology, vaping is improving with every new generation. This means further reductions in any toxins produced, as well as improved safety features. Choosing a newer generation device from a quality manufacturer puts your best foot forward - yes this might mean spending a little more, but when it comes to your health, what’s a few extra pounds?
The single biggest ‘tip’ for athletes switching to vaping is: stay hydrated!
The components of e-liquid, particularly propylene glycol, are hygroscopic which means they draw water to them. This can result in drying out of the throat, which can be uncomfortable when exercising, so make sure to hydrate well before physical activity!
DOES VAPING AFFECT ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE? CONCLUSION
There really is no question over whether or not athletes who smoke should switch to vaping.
Vaping impacts the body much less than smoking, and athletes push their bodies to the limit - something that is dangerous to do if your heart and vascular system are already under pressure, or under performing. Making the switch will take the strain off, and allow a large degree of recovery for those systems.
SMOKO’s E-cigarettes have helped thousands of people quit smoking, so if you are an athlete concerned about the impact your smoking habit has had on your body and your career, check out our E-cigarette Starter Kit and make the switch today!
Only one thing remains, my athletic compatriot - that is to say: see you at the Super Bowl!
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