Stop Smoking...Exercise!


BOSTON--Fear of weight gain after quitting smoking has been an expressed concern of smokers contemplating kicking the habit. The prospect of gaining weight is certainly not appealing to anyone, and certainly not women.

There is now a battle plan available for women smokers who wish to stop and avoid subsequent weight gain.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health (July 1996, Vol.86,No.7:999-1004) by Ichiro Kawachi, M.D. and associates at Harvard University found that women who stopped smoking, without changing their levels of exercise, gained 2.3 kg (4.93 pounds) over a 2-year study period. Women who exercised equivalent to 1-2 hours of vigorous activity per week after quitting smoking only gained 1.8 kg (3.86 pounds), while the weight gain was only 1.3 kg (2.79 pounds) for those who exercised the equivalent of 2 or greater hours of vigorous exercise per week.

The findings of this study provide added incentive to female smokers to discontinue their unhealthy habits. No longer can it be said that quitting will inexorably lead to weight gain.

This study also emphasizes that "getting healthy" is not a passive event. The benefits of exercise for women and men go beyond cosmetic and include improved cardiovascular condition, endurance, musculoskeletal stability (especially important in the elderly), and emotional well-being. The benefits of quitting smoking are too numerous to review here, even with computer memory, but they include lowering of rate of death.

During this Olympic Year, the editors of MedicineNet would encourage women and men of all ages who smoke to use the inspiration of the amazing athletes of the world and STOP SMOKING!

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