Exercise helps teens quit smoking

Kristi King, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – It’s easier for teen smokers to resist cigarettes if they’re exercising at least 20 minutes a day. Even if it’s a short walk, the more days they exercise the less likely they are to light up.

A George Washington University study finds the best success comes when teens combine exercise with a quit smoking program. In this case, the participants used the Not-On-Tobacco program.

Teenagers in the study smoked on average a half a pack of cigarettes a day on weekdays and an entire pack on weekends. The teens were tracked in 19 high schools in West Virginia.

As for how the increased activity works or why it works, researchers, including Dr. Kimberly Horn, say one possible explanation may be related to exercise releasing endorphins. Those feel good chemicals might help teen smokers better resist cravings or help them cope with nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

The study, called “Understanding Physical Activity as a Function of Teen Smoking,” is expected to be released online Tuesday in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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