Congratulations! I have been in your shoes! And I believe I was just
about your age when I smoked my last cigarette. I have now been a
regular exerciser for the past 25 years and I can't imagine that I
once had the desire to willingly inhale smoke into my lungs!!
It is amazing how the body begins to repair itself on it's own, once
those dastardly cigarettes are thrown out for good.
The following overview is from "Why People Smoke," by Joe Abhold,
Ph.D. Volume 8, Number 1, Spring, 2003
"How Quickly Do the Benefits of Quitting Start?"
* "Just 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your blood pressure and
pulse rate drop to normal and the body temperature of your hands and
feet increases to normal."
* "A mere 8 hours after your last smoke, the carbon monoxide level
decreases and the oxygen level in your blood increases to normal."
* "Just 24 hours after your last cigarette, you substantially lessen
your chances of having a heart attack."
* "Two days after your last cigarette, you will notice that your
ability to taste and smell is enhanced."
* "Three days later, your breathing should be noticeably better
because your lung capacity will be greater."
* "Your circulation will improve and your lung functioning will
increase up to 30% within two weeks to three months after quitting."
* "Between one month and nine months, the cilia in your lungs will
regenerate, allowing your body to clean your lungs and reduce
* "One year after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease is
half that of a smoker."
* "Five years after quitting, your risk of stroke is reduced to that
of a nonsmoker."
* "Ten years after quitting, the lung cancer death rate is about half
that of a continuing smokers. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat,
esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decreases."
* "Fifteen years after quitting, your risk of coronary heart disease
is that of a nonsmokers.
(U.S. Surgeon General's Reports (1988, 1990)
EXERCISE AND VITAMIN A HELP TO REPAIR THE LUNGS
According to QuitTobacco.org
"Exercise is a great substitute for smoking. You may find that as you
exercise more, you cough more, clearing out your lungs and airways.
This is good. Most likely you'll breath easier and build up your
endurance as you get further and further from your last cigarette."
From "The Self-Repairing Body - Your body has a bumper-to-bumper
warranty on many important organs. Here's how to cash in before it
expires," by Matt Bean. Men's Health
"The lungs come equipped with a self-cleaning cycle, but overloading
them with smoke or smog will gunk up the works. The cilia, or hairlike
structures in your lungs, flagellate (that's move) upward, coaxing the
bad stuff out of the alveoli (little air sacs) and into the trachea,
where the gunk grows into a frightening reminder of why you should
have been better to your lungs to begin with. "It's like a mucus
escalator," says Norman Edelman, M.D., a scientific advisor to the
American Lung Association. "That's a major form of defense. Within a
few days to a week (after quitting smoking], you start feeling better,
and you start coughing up all that bad mucus you have down there."
What you can do:
"Exercise will help loosen the large chunks after you first come
clean. But you should be exercising already. Retinoic acid, or vitamin
A, could actually help your lungs rebuild. Rats and mice with
emphysema (they smoked tiny little cigarettes) given the compound were
able to restore alveoli, which swap carbon dioxide for fresh oxygen to
pre-emphysema levels, according to a recent study published in the
European Respiration Journal. You'll get several times the recommended
daily allowance (900 micrograms) in only one serving of carrots, sweet
potatoes, or mango."
From "The Influence of Exercise on Smoking Cessation."
"Smokers often find it difficult to quit smoking and make other
lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet at the same time. This is
why it is important to begin a regular exercise program several months
before the expected date of smoking cessation. Not only does exercise
aid in weight management, but it is a healthy alternative activity
that helps overcome cigarette withdrawal."
"In addition, make sure to include aerobic exercises such as running,
jogging, swimming or biking to your exercise regimen to ensure a
strenuous cardiovascular workout. Remember, it is important to get
your heart and lungs back into good condition after any period of
smoking. With this in mind, it is best to start slow and build up to
greater intensities. Start off by exercising 25-30 minutes three to
four times a week and progress gradually. It is also essential to
establish both short-term and long-term goals to push yourself and
chart your progress. You can also design an individualized program
with a personal trainer for weight training. This is a great way to
tone your muscles and develop the strength you need to resist your
cravings. In addition to a personal trainer, having an exercise
partner is a great way to stay motivated and stick with a program. Try
to find a partner who is encouraging and supportive and will hold you
accountable of your improvement and success! Lastly don't forget that
exercise increases you energy level and makes you feel better
physically and mentally whereas cigarettes sap your strength, corrupt
your body, and lead to an early death through lung or heart disease."
About Building Lung Endurance after quitting:
Read the following Question and Answer from "Ask the Tri Doc: smoking
and exercise," by Dr. Jeff Sankoff:
"Many triathletes are ex-smokers/couch lizards who are trying to get
back in shape. Do you know how long it takes before the effects of
smoking are erased from one's body? Or, how long before VO2 max can be
The importance of regular aerobic exercise is stressed in the following article:
"Your Relationship With Your Lungs," by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa,
California. The Doctor's Medical Library.
"Repair to Lungs, Body and Cells After Quitting Smoking." The Quit
Smoking Stop. http://www.quitsmokingstop.com/repairtolungsbodyandcellsafterquittingsmoking.html
"Quitting smoking: Better to stop at a younger age?" OhioHealth.
WATER, THE RIGHT OILS AND AVOIDANCE OF CERTAIN FOODS
From "Want to Stop Smoking?" Monika Grill.
"One of the major challenges is the removal of toxins and phlegm from
the lungs. This process can take up to a year, unless supported
appropriately. Smoking tends to leave the lungs not only toxic and
congested, but also dry and possibly inflamed. The famous smokers skin
is a symptom of lung heat and dryness."
"The focus for healing the lungs is to moisturize them, so that the
phlegm is softened and loosened up. Then, we need to expel the phlegm
from the chest. For this we use herbal combinations. In addition,
Fatty Acids like Flaxseed Oil and Salmon Oil will moisturize and
nourish the tissue, and modify the discomfort of occasional coughing."
"Drinking plenty of water, improving digestion with enzymes, Cutting
back on milk products, fried foods, and fatty foods, will reduce
additional phlegm production."
"Most people do not drink enough water. Unlike sodas, coffee, alcohol
and fruit juices, which burden the system and aggravate symptoms,
water heals. It flushes out toxins, softens deposits and phlegm, and
lubricates the tissue."
"I suggest taking a bottle of water along wherever you go, and sipping
from it throughout the day."
The following excerpt is from "The never-too-late nutrition plan: you
can rebuild yourself - no matter how badly you've trashed your body,"
by Myatt Murphy. Men's Fitness, Jan. 2002
* "Once you stop, the effects of smoking on your digestive system,
lungs and heart will eventually diminish over time. However, you
should start eating at least six servings of fruits and vegetables a
day. Studies have shown that men who regularly eat both can cut their
risk of lung cancer by 50 percent."
* "Giving up smoking can also mean gaining a few extra pounds as
compensation. To avoid this, "break up your daily caloric intake into
six or seven smaller meals, compared to three or four larger ones, to
help curb binges while keeping your glucose levels even throughout the
day," says Kleiner. Small, frequent meals also require less acid for
digestion, which will help ease any problems until your digestive
system returns to normal functioning."
* "Make sure to include foods that are high in complex carbohydrates
(such as rice, breads and pasta), which can tie up excess stomach
acids and give your stomach a well-deserved break.
* "Starting an exercise program is the single most beneficial thing an
ex-smoker can do. Why? Regular exercise can produce biochemical
changes similar to those caused by nicotine, including enhanced mental
sharpness and a greater sense of calm. Exercise generates
catecholamines, chemicals that help increase mental alertness, as well
as endorphins, which help decrease feelings of anxiety and depression.
Burning more calories also keeps your metabolism in high gear, helping
to stave off any excess weight that can be brought on by quitting
I truly hope the above information is helpful. Again - Congratulations!
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