It can be a challenge to quit smoking.

Maximise Your Chances of Success

If you have made the decision to quit smoking, congratulations! You are one step closer to a healthier life.

As any ex-smoker will tell you, the path to quitting is not an easy one, as you may suffer from nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms. However, these challenges are temporary and can be addressed with exercise. Research shows that even moderate physical activity, especially cardiovascular exercise, reduces nicotine cravings. During and immediately after periods of aerobic activities, your withdrawal symptoms and cravings are significantly reduced.

Starting a new exercise programme will reinforce your mindset of turning over a new leaf. The release of endorphins or "feel good" chemicals in the brain will reduce stress and improve your concentration, which will in turn, raise your confidence levels. By focusing on a positive habit, you will think less about your urge to smoke.

To maximise your chances of success, enlist the support of an exercise buddy. Exercising with a friend is more fun and you can motivate each other to keep going when one is tempted to skip a session.

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Don’t rush it! If you are starting to exercise again after a long hiatus, start slowly and gradually build momentum. You can take brisk walks or light jogs, three to five times a week.

It is recommended that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. Examples of moderate physical activity are brisk walking, leisure cycling, swimming, or line-dancing.

If you have joint problems, stick to low-impact activities such as cycling or swimming. Always warm-up and do simple stretches after you work out. Once you are able to exercise for at least 40 minutes at a brisk pace, you can add short sprint intervals into your routine.

For example, if you are walking, alternate it with one-minute jogs, and if you are swimming, add one-minute pool sprints. Cyclists can try going uphill. Be mindful of how your body feels and take breaks whenever you feel aches or pains.

Aerobic exercise (or cardio) is a physical activity that raises your heart rate. There is a wide variety of aerobic exercise that you can undertake, including group activities. Experiment with different ones and settle on one that you enjoy so that you will stick with it. Also, consult a doctor who is familiar with your health history before beginning your exercise regime.

Related: Health Benefits of Exercise and Physical Activity

Change Your Habits and Beat the Urge!

Don’t be discouraged if you reach for a cigarette again after a period of abstinence. Slip-ups are often part and parcel of the process of quitting. Don’t beat yourself up if you do relapse but persevere in your quest to quit. Enlist the help of family and friends to support you in your quest to quit.

Change your other daily habits. Replace your regular smoking routines with healthier activities — for example, if you habitually smoke after dinner, take your dog for a walk instead. Or instead of going for a smoking break at work, call a colleague to meet you for coffee.

Resources for Quitting

Join the I Quit 28-Day Countdown now! Call QuitLine at 1800 438 2000 for support, and visit participating retail pharmacies for advice that can help you quit.

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.

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