Sweating it out can help quit smoking

If your New Year’s resolution is to stop smoking, then start exercising. A new study from University of London has shown that even light exercising can help you put down the lighter. The researchers found that just 10 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises can reduce the severity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms like cigarette craving, nausea and insomnia. They studied brains of rats and found that smoking and exercising activates the same receptors in the brain.

Brain game

When you smoke, the main targets are a type of receptor in your brain called Nicotinic ACh receptors. Exercising has the power to activate the same receptor. These receptors play a key role in cognition, and nicotine withdrawal has been reported to cause thinking and memory impairment. Exercising improved the receptors in the regions of the brain responsible for motor, sensory (smell, hearing) and also memory, navigation, and planning.

Nicotine-addicted male rats were given wheel-running exercise regimens from two to 24 hours, and scientists found that even two hours of exercise were enough to activate the receptors. This is consistent with human clinical studies showing that just 10 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises after you quit smoking are enough to reduce the craving and other withdrawal symptoms.

Other brain factors

Nicotine withdrawal is also associated with a reduction of dopaminergic neurons — the ones responsible for reward simulation. Previous studies have shown that exercise can up-regulate this receptor, giving you a satisfying and rewarding feeling.

Studies have also proved that exercising can help increase the cortisol (which helps in body metabolism and memory) level in the body, as withdrawal from smoking can reduce cortisol in the body.

“Exercising — even simple breathing exercises, reducing workload, drinking plenty of fluids can all help you tide over the difficult withdrawal phase,” says Dr Gauthamadas, Addiction Psychiatrist at Doc Gautham’s Neuro Centre, Chennai.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 12:16:17 PM |

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