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A short walk helps smokers quit

Smokers should do short bouts of exercise to help them resist the temptation to light up, say experts at the University of Exeter.

A review, recently published in the international journal 'Addiction', concludes that when smokers abstain from smoking, exercise can help them to manage withdrawal symptoms and resist the urge to smoke.

All 12 studies reviewed in the paper showed that a single bout of moderate exercise, lasting for as little as five minutes, was sufficient to reduce cravings for a cigarette. Exercise, such as a brisk walk, also reduced withdrawal symptoms, including stress, anxiety and poor concentration. The lead author, Dr Adrian Taylor of the University of Exeter's School of Sport and Health Sciences said: 'If a drug revealed the same effects it would immediately be marketed as a valuable aid to help people quit smoking or cut down.'

Today, National No Smoking Day, one in three UK smokers - about 4million people - are expected to take steps towards giving up, with about 85,000 quitting for good. 'People who struggle to give up smoking could make things much easier for themselves by taking just moderate exercise,' said Dr Adrian Taylor. 'Not only may it help prevent weight gain but it will also help control the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that often lead to relapse.'

Dr Taylor and his team at the University of Exeter are conducting ongoing research with brain imaging. They hope to find out how exercise affects the mood centres of the brain, which in turn reduces the appetite for a cigarette. They are also seeking to build exercise advice into existing NHS smoking cessation clinics in a nationally funded project called 'Walk-2-Quit'.

Sarah Hoyle | alfa
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