You may have read the name of this article and thought to yourself, “What in the world? Last week she went on and on about not giving up and getting past the speed bumps…now she’s saying there are benefits to quitting?” Yep, I sure am! While it is true that I do not want any of you to give up on your fitness goals, there are some cases where quitting is actually better for you! The one I’d like to address today is smoking.
Now, before I continue, I’d like to make it perfectly clear that the intent of this article is not to anger or rile up those who have chosen to smoke, rather it is to voice my opinion on the matter as well as provide information that may be of benefit to someone who is trying to quit. So, with that being said…let’s do this thang. Lol.
Whether you are a smoker or a non smoker, it is a health issue that we all face. We all know someone who has smoked in the past, who currently smokes or someone who will begin smoking in the future, so to say it is an issue that only need be brought to the attention of a few, is misguided thinking. We’ve all been taught that smoking is bad for our bodies, we’ve seen the pictures of blackened lungs, we’ve watched the commercials, we’ve read the warnings and we may have even had someone near and dear to our hearts pass away from the side effects of smoking.
Those of us who do not smoke become irritated that you cannot even walk into a grocery store or movie theater without breathing in at least one breath of smoke filled air. We know the side effects of second hand smoke are just as dangerous , if not more so, as breathing in first hand smoke. To have made the choice not to smoke and then have to breathe it in, and have our children breathe it in as well, is infuriating to say the least.
Yet those who have chosen to smoke are allowed the same freedom to choose as we non smokers are. I know several smokers, some of them I know better than others, yet it seems that one common thread is the irritation of having to stand back away from public doorways the allotted 50 feet, especially in winter time when it is cold out. One of my friends who is currently a smoker made the comment that one of the things he noticed after his last failed attempt at quitting was the smell that accompanies anyone who has just had a smoke. I agree, it is obnoxious, and for me at least, brings on a crazy nasty headache that does not subside easily or quickly. Ugh.
So, why quit? Well at the top of my list are two things. The first is that you’ll smell better (this statement applies in two different ways. First, your sense of smell will improve and you’ll be able to smell things better and secondly, you won’t smell like cigarette smoke everywhere you go. Bonus!). The second reason is that whomever your significant other is will enjoy kissing you a whole lot more (and that’s a reward that you have to admit in and of itself is worth quitting for…lol).
Seriously though, you already know at least a handful of reasons, or least of all, one; you’ll be healthier. As I’ve made mention before, our bodies are amazing. They will do astounding things if we just play by their rules. Below is a timeline of healing that the body goes through correlates with the length of time from the last puff. Pretty amazing if ya ask me! Check it out!
- 20 minutes
Your blood pressure, pulse rate, and the temperature of your hands and feet will all return to normal.
- 8 hours
Remaining nicotine in your bloodstream will have fallen to 6.25% of normal peak daily levels, a 93.25% reduction.
- 12 hours
Your blood oxygen level will have increased to normal and carbon monoxide levels will have dropped to normal.
- 24 hours
Anxieties peak in intensity and within two weeks should return to near pre-cessation levels.
- 48 hours
Damaged nerve endings have started to regrow and your sense of smell and taste are beginning to return to normal. Cessation anger and irritability peaks.
- 72 hours
Your entire body will test 100% nicotine-free and over 90% of all nicotine metabolites (the chemicals it breaks down into) will now have passed from your body via your urine. Symptoms of chemical withdrawal have peaked in intensity, including restlessness. The number of cue induced crave episodes experienced during any quitting day will peak for the “average” ex-user. Lung bronchial tubes leading to air sacs (alveoli) are beginning to relax in recovering smokers. Breathing is becoming easier and the lungs functional abilities are starting to increase.
- 5 – 8 days
The “average” ex-smoker will encounter an “average” of three cue induced crave episodes per day. Although we may not be “average” and although serious cessation time distortion can make minutes feel like hours, it is unlikely that any single episode will last longer than 3 minutes. Keep a clock handy and time them.
- 10 days – The “average ex-user is down to encountering less than two crave episodes per day, each less than 3 minutes.
10 days to 2 weeks
Recovery has likely progressed to the point where your addiction is no longer doing the talking. Blood circulation in our gums and teeth are now similar to that of a non-user.
- 2 to 4 weeks
Cessation related anger, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, impatience, insomnia, restlessness and depression have ended. If still experiencing any of these symptoms get seen and evaluated by your physician.
- 21 days
Brain acetylcholine receptor counts up-regulated in response to nicotine’s presence have now down-regulated and receptor binding has returned to levels seen in the brains of non-smokers.
- 2 weeks to 3 months
Your heart attack risk has started to drop. Your lung function is beginning to improve.
- 3 weeks to 3 months
Your circulation has substantially improved. Walking has become easier. Your chronic cough, if any, has likely disappeared.
- 1 to 9 months
Any smoking related sinus congestion, fatigue or shortness of breath have decreased. Cilia have regrown in your lungs thereby increasing their ability to handle mucus, keep your lungs clean, and reduce infections. Your body’s overall energy has increased.
- 1 year
Your excess risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke has dropped to less than half that of a smoker.
- 5 to 15 years
Your risk of stroke has declined to that of a non-smoker.
- 10 years
Your risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer is between 30% and 50% of that for a continuing smoker. Risk of death from lung cancer has declined by almost half if you were an average smoker (one pack per day). Your risk of pancreatic cancer has declined to that of a never-smoker, while risk of cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus has also declined.
- 13 years
Your risk of smoking induced tooth loss has declined to that of a never-smoker.
- 15 years
Your risk of coronary heart disease is now that of a person who has never smoked.
- 20 years
Female excess risk of death from all smoking related causes, including lung disease and cancer, has now reduced to that of a never-smoker. Risk of pancreatic cancer reduced to that of a never-smoker.
*Information from whyquit.com (to see original table complete with links to the studies quoted, click here).
If you, or a loved one, is a smoker looking to quit, click here to read an article on the harms of smoking as well as find a list of smoking cessation programs and hot lines, or here for FAQ’s and quitting support from the American Cancer Society.