It's no secret that smoking deteriorates your lung capacity over time. Them cancer sticks are just plain bad for you. Worse if you are an athlete. So, if you're looking to improve your cardiovascular health, quitting smoking is a great place to start.
But what about all that time you've spent puffing away? Is the damage irreparable? Can smokers regain lung function after quitting?
The short answer is, yes! Smokers who quit can improve their lung function in as little as a few weeks. In fact, some studies have shown that ex-smokers have lungs that look similar to those of people who have never smoked.Of course, the sooner you quit smoking, the better.
In this article, we will take an objective look at smoking and the effects it has on your cardiovascular system. We will also explore some ways that you can improve your lung function after quitting smoking.
How Does Smoking Affect One’s Lung Capacity and Ability to Run or Engage in Cardio?
Smoking has a number of negative effects on the lungs, including decreased lung function, impaired gas exchange, and an increased risk of infection and other diseases (1). All of these factors can affect your ability to do cardio.
Smokers have less lung capacity than non-smokers. This means that they can’t breathe as deeply or as quickly, which can make it harder to do cardio exercises like power jacks, step up or similar workouts.
Smoking also impairs gas exchange in the lungs. This means that less oxygen is able to get into the blood, and carbon dioxide is not removed as efficiently. This can make it harder to do cardio, as your body will be working harder to get the oxygen it needs.
Smoking Has Been Shown in Studies To Aid Top-Level Elite Athletes in High Level Sports
It has been shown, crazy to even think this, but that smoking can increase hemoglobin in the blood, increase lung volume and aid in weight loss (2)
This mind you, has only been shown to be effective in High-Level Elite Endurance Training.
How to get back lung capacity after quitting smoking?
Your lungs are not going to heal overnight as there is damage that has been done over the course of a long period of time, but there are a number of things you can do to improve your lung function after quitting smoking (3).
- Exercise: Exercise is one of the best ways to improve lung function and overall cardiovascular health. Try to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day - you can start low and work your ay up tp doing 100 jumping jacks a day or an exercise of similar intensity.
- Eat healthy: Eating a healthy diet is important for overall health, but it can also help improve lung function. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and avoid processed foods.
- Yoga: Yoga is a great way to improve lung function and flexibility.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water will help to keep your lungs healthy and moist.
- Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
How to improve my stamina after quitting smoking
Stamina is another word to describe lung capacity, which is the maximum volume of air that a person can bring in. The average lung capacity for men is 6-liters and it's 4.7 liters for females (4).
It is said that US athlete Michael Phelps has the record for the highest lung capacity which is 12-liters. A smoker's lungs has depleted cilia by 30% and will be functioning at only 70% so the smoker would have to work harder to achieve the same stamina as a non-smoker.
There may also be mucus buildup which can persist for a while. This can make it difficult to breathe and cause lung inflammation. The good news is that this will eventually go away as your lungs heal and the cilia regenerate.
To improve your stamina, start by slowly adding aerobic exercise to your routine. Cardio exercises like walking, jogging, swimming, biking, and elliptical training are all great options. Be sure to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. Or, ramp it up with higher intensity aerobic workouts, the likes of mummy kicks are quite helpful for your cardio.
If you are struggling to breathe, try yoga or Pilates. These exercises focus on breath control and can help improve lung function. Drink plenty of water and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke to help keep your lungs healthy.
How long should you wait to exercise after quitting smoking
Exercising immediately after quitting smoking will be an uphill task. You will struggle to breathe and you will feel exhausted. You can choose to give yourself a few weeks to heal first before attempting any strenuous exercises.
Start by adding some light cardio exercises to your routine, pulse squats are very low impact and a great fit here. Then you can gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. Warm broths and fluids are known to help expedite the healing process, so drink plenty of fluids especially water to keep your body hydrated.
Can you do heavy cardio or Sprints after quitting smoking?
It may take up to 12-months for your lung capacity to get restored to its full potential. So, it is best to avoid heavy cardio exercises during this time.
Instead, focus on light cardio exercises and gradually increase the intensity as your lung function improves. Such workouts as burpees are great for building muscles, but you will need them for cardio endurance improvement too. That said, one's capacity to recover is largely dependent on how long they have been smoking, the severity of their addiction, and how much damage has been done to their lungs.
Some people may find that they are able to do heavy cardio exercises soon after quitting while others may need to take a more gradual approach. Your physician and your coach will be the best people to help you make the decision
How much time will it take to get good at Running after quitting smoking?
Again, this depends on a multitude of factors, including how long you’ve been smoking, how much you smoke, your body weight, co-morbidities and how active you are. This is entirely dependent on you the individual. Many people run while they are still smoking and some take months to years to get back to running at the pace they were before they started smoking.
Generally speaking, though, it’s best to start slowly and work your way up as your body becomes used to not smoking anymore. In the beginning, aim for a little bit of cardio every other day. As you get more comfortable, you can increase the frequency and duration of your workouts.
It’s important to remember that everyone is different. So don’t compare your progress to anyone else’s. Just focus on making gradual improvements and soon you’ll be clocking your best time on your runs soon enough.
Does Cardio or Aerobic Exercise Help with relapse after quitting smoking?
The first few weeks after quitting smoking are the hardest. You may experience intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Cardio can help you cope with these symptoms by releasing endorphins, which have mood-boosting properties.
Endorphins also help to reduce stress and anxiety levels. So, if you’re feeling tempted to smoke, go for a run instead or perform any other form of cardio exercise. Not only will you feel better physically, but you’ll also be less likely to relapse.
Cardio may not be the only answer, but it can certainly help in the fight against relapse.
How long does it take for metabolism to return to normal after quitting smoking?
Nicotine in smoke is a potent metabolism booster which is why smokers tend to have a lower body weight than non-smokers. When you quit smoking, your metabolism slows down as your body tries to adjust.
It is estimated that smokers gain up to 5 kilograms over a period of five years after stopping cigarettes. Bulk of this weight gain will occur during the first year. Some of this can be prevented with a good diet and exercise program. But it will take some time for your metabolism to return to its normal rate.
In the meantime, focus on eating healthy and balanced meals. Avoid processed foods and sugary drinks. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And make sure to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
These lifestyle changes will not only help to normalize your metabolism but will also improve your overall health.
Does running help heal lungs after smoking
One of the effects of longterm smoking is reduced blood supply to the lungs. This can lead to tissue damage and impaired lung function. Fortunately, this damage is reversible and with time, the lungs can heal themselves.
Running is one of the best exercises you can do for your lungs. It helps to improve blood circulation and strengthens the respiratory muscles. It also helps clear out toxins and mucus from the lungs.
So, if you’ve recently quit smoking, start running and you will see an improvement in your lung function. Just make sure to start slowly and build up gradually.
Not only will running help improve your lung function, but it will also help you lose weight, which is another common side effect of quitting smoking.
3 Best cardio exercises to do after quitting smoking
We know how eager you are to get your lungs to start pumping at full capacity. That's why we have handpicked the three best cardio exercises to do after quitting smoking.
#1 - Running
Running is one of the best exercises for your lungs and your overall fitness. It helps to boost your cardiovascular fitness and can also help to clear out your lungs. As we mentioned earlier, running stimulates blood flow and helps to remove toxins from your body. It is also a great way to get some fresh air and improve your lung function.
Don't forget the brain-boosting endorphins either. Running makes you happier which may help prevent a relapse.
How to start running after quitting smoking
Regardless of whether you are looking to resume running, or start running for the first time, after quitting smoking there are a few things to consider.
- Step 1 - Start with walks. Walking is a great way to start getting active again and it's low impact. So it won't put too much stress on your body. Start with 10-20 minute walks a few times in a week. Gradually increase the duration as you feel more comfortable.
- Step 2 - Add some light running. Once you are walking for 30 minutes without any problems, start adding in a few light runs. Start with 5-10 minute runs and gradually increase the duration as your body gets used to it.
- Step 3 - Increase the intensity. Once you are comfortable running for 20-30 minutes, you can start to increase the intensity. This means running faster or adding in some hills.
- Step 4 - Use a heart rate monitor or a fitness band to monitor your progress. This will help you to track your heart rate and make sure you are not overdoing it.
Just remember to listen to your body and don't overdo it. Running is a great exercise, but it's important to ease into it after quitting smoking.
Suggested Distance and Duration
As a beginner, aim for a distance of 1-2 miles and a duration of 20-30 minutes. As you get more comfortable, you can gradually increase the distance and intensity.
#2 - Swimming
Swimming is a great exercise for smokers because it is low impact and gentle on the body. It is also one of the best exercises for your lungs as it helps to improve lung function and circulation. Swimming is also great for your overall fitness as it works all the major muscle groups in your body.
How to start swimming after quitting smoking
If you have never swum before, or it has been a while since you last swam, we recommend starting with some basic lessons. This will help you to learn the correct techniques and how to use the different strokes. It is also a good idea to join a swimming club or pool with a friendly atmosphere. This will make it more enjoyable and encourage you to swim more often.
- Step 1 - Start with 10-15 minute swims. Start by swimming for 10-15 minutes a few times in a week. As you get more comfortable, gradually increase the duration.
- Step 2 - Add some intensity. Once you are comfortable swimming for 10-15 minutes, you can start to add some intensity. This could mean swimming faster or using a more challenging stroke.
- Step 3 - Increase the distance. Once you are able to swim for 20-30 minutes without any problems, start increasing the distance. Swim for 30-40 minutes at a time or swim for longer but take more breaks.
- Step 4 - Join a swimming club or pool. This will make it more enjoyable and encourage you to swim more often.
Remember to warm up before you start swimming. This will help to prevent any injuries. You can train your lungs by doing regular breathing exercises. This will help you to take in more oxygen and improve your lung function.
Suggested Distance and Duration
As a beginner, aim for a distance of 500-1000 meters and a duration of 20-30 minutes. As you get more comfortable, you can gradually increase the distance and
#3 - Biking
Biking is another great exercise for smokers as it is reasonably low impact and can rev up your heart rate. Biking is also a great cardio workout and can help to improve your lung function. It is also a great way to explore your local area or go on longer adventures.
How to start biking after quitting smoking
Biking is a fun and easy exercise to start after quitting smoking. You can bike indoors on a stationary bike or outdoors on a regular bike. If you have never biked before, we recommend starting with a few short rides and gradually increasing the distance as you get more comfortable.
- Step 1 - Start with 10-15 minute rides on flat trails. This will help you to get used to the motion, the mobility or the lack of it and how it feels to the body.
- Step 2 - Increase the distance. Once you are comfortable riding for 10-15 minutes, start increasing the distance. Ride for 20-30 minutes at a time or ride further but take more breaks.
- Step 3 - Add some intensity. Once you are comfortable riding for 20-30 minutes, you can start to add some intensity. This could mean riding on hilly trails or biking faster.
- Step 4 - Join a biking club or group. This will make it more enjoyable and encourage you to bike more often.
Biking requires a fair bit of strength in the lower body. Not to mention that it can be very demanding on the cardiovascular system. Try to bike at a pace that is comfortable for you and make sure to warm up before you start.
Suggested Distance and Duration
As a beginner, aim for a distance of 2-3 miles and a duration of 30 minutes. You can rev up your heart rate by biking at a speed of 10-12 mph. As you get more comfortable, you can gradually increase the distance and duration.
Tips on how to get started with cardio after quitting smoking
Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health. However, it can be difficult to start exercising after quitting smoking. The key is to start slow and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. It is also important to find an exercise that you enjoy so that you are more likely to stick with it.
Here are some tips to make the transition easier for you.
Take it slow
If you exercised before you quit smoking, you may be tempted to jump back into it at the same intensity. However, it is important to take it slow and ease your way back into it. Start with shorter workouts and gradually increase the duration and intensity as you get more comfortable.
Find an exercise you enjoy
The key to sticking with an exercise program is to find an exercise that you enjoy. If you hate running, don't force yourself to do it. There are plenty of other exercises out there that can give you a great workout. Find one that you enjoy and you will be more likely to stick with it.
Set realistic goals
When starting an exercise program, it is important to set realistic goals. Don't aim to run a marathon your first week back. Start with shorter distances and gradually increase the distance as you get more comfortable.
Mix things up
Mundanity is one of the main reasons people quit exercising. To avoid this, mix things up and try different exercises. This will keep things interesting and help you stick with it.
Get a workout buddy
Finding a workout buddy can be a great motivator. It can also make working out more fun. Having someone to talk to while you are working out can make the time fly by.
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