If you’ve ever attempted a good workout as a smoker, you probably fell well short of the mark. You simply can’t perform at optimal levels with chemicals, toxins, and heavy metals running through your bloodstream and tar coating your lungs. The body and its muscles need good, clean oxygen in order to function properly, and smoking severely inhibits the body’s ability to breathe, exchange, and process oxygen efficiently.
Working out changes dramatically once you ditch the cigarettes. You’ll have far more energy, motivation, and you can perform at a physical level your body wouldn’t have dreamed of during your smoking years. Let’s take a closer look at how smoking changes the way you perform, and why quitting is the best decision you can make for your physical health this year.
First and foremost, let’s take a look at the lungs. The lungs play an important role in the overall health of the body. These unique and essential organs are responsible for the gas exchange that sends good, clean oxygen to your cells, tissues, and organs, and facilitates the gas exchange of carbon dioxide as a waste product. When you breathe in, your lungs’ specialized air sacs, called alveoli, fill with air and exchange gasses with red blood cells.
Oxygen is delivered and carbon dioxide carried away; a function that is severely inhibited by smoking. When you smoke, the alveoli shrivel and become damaged, and the lungs become coated with tar—a sticky substance that makes it difficult for the lungs to do anything.
When you’re working out, your muscles require more oxygen, but it’s simply not possible because the lungs are compromised by the thousands of chemicals and toxins present in cigarettes.
Quitting smoking has an almost immediate effect on the lungs. The alveoli begin to heal within just a few hours of your last cigarette, and the lungs themselves literally and figuratively breathe a sigh of relief. You’ll notice better airflow, which has a cascading effect on other parts of the body.
The heart is responsible for keeping blood pumping to all of the body’s organs, tissues, and cells. Blood is pumped via pulmonary arteries and veins to and from the lungs, carrying precious oxygen and discarding carbon dioxide. The problem is that when the heart has to work too hard, it wears down quicker, and high blood pressure can cause all kinds of problems.
The heart simply can’t keep up when you’re a smoker. Constant hypertension from the harmful chemicals keeps the heart overworked, and when you add exercise into the mix, you could be increasing your risk of a sudden heart attack or stroke. When you smoke, the blood thickens and your red blood cells become less efficient at delivering oxygen, causing the heart to pump faster and faster until…
Either a rupture or a blockage can occur under such conditions. Smokers are twice as likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke and adding extra stress by working out likely multiples this even more. When you quit, your blood pressure drops within a day as the heart and blood vessels begin to heal and recover.
The lack of oxygen to your vital organs likely leaves you feeling like you’ve got no energy throughout the day. Smokers often accompany their habit with a stimulant like coffee or energy drinks to account for the lack of energy and motivation, putting further stress on the heart.
Putting down the cigarettes doesn’t have to mean you leave nicotine or your ritual behind forever. Cigarettes are dangerous and addictive, but there are some alternative products you can consider in your cessation journey as a viable replacement. Tobaccoless chew (like those found on https://blackbuffalo.com/), CBD, nicotine gum, and nicotine patches are just a few examples.
Exercise is a great way to boost your confidence and self-esteem, but adding cigarettes to the mix is counterproductive. Once you quit smoking, you’ll finally reach those goals you’ve been dreaming of, and you’ll be more hygienic. Let’s be honest; smoking doesn’t smell good, it wrinkles your skin and gives it a sickly color, and can even ruin your teeth.
Once you’ve your most basic (but essential) bodily functions back, you’ll feel more like yourself again. It’s not easy to be self-confident when you’re actively holding yourself back from peak performance with a harmful habit that can and will cause major health complications or even death later on. Maybe it’s time to quit once and for all.
Your loved ones will certainly appreciate your cessation, because it means you get to spend more time with them as a happy, healthy, more active person; and there’s no price on that. Let’s start the fight against tobacco addiction right here! It’s time to give up cigarettes and embrace your true physical potential.