Physical Activity as an Aid in Smoking Cessation

Authored by: Adrian H. Taylor , Michael Ussher

Routledge Handbook of Physical Activity and Mental Health

Print publication date:  April  2013
Online publication date:  August  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415782999
eBook ISBN: 9780203132678
Adobe ISBN: 9781136477805


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Tobacco causes about five million deaths annually worldwide, and is the second leading cause of death (World Health Organization, 2011). Smoking cessation is a challenge due to the insidious nature of the addiction (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Unaided quit attempts have a success rate (6–12 months abstinence) of around 3–5%, while aided quit attempts, particularly through a combination of behavioral counseling and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), bupropion or varenicline, can improve success rates by around 7–9% (Cahill, Stead, & Lancaster, 2011; Hughes, Stead, & Lancaster, 2007; Stead, Perera, Bullen, Mant, & Lancaster, 2008). There is scope for new therapies. There is substantial research on why people relapse; notable reasons include cravings, low mood, and weight gain. Physical activity (PA) has the potential to influence all of these and has been recommended as an aid to smoking cessation by specialist smoking clinics (Everson-Hock, Taylor, & Ussher, 2010a; Everson-Hock, Taylor, Ussher, & Faulkner, 2010b), in self-help guides (Marcus, Hampl, & Fisher, 2004), and in national guidelines (US Department of Health & Human Services, 2008).

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