What’s Worse for Your Health — Smoking or Not Exercising?

no_smokingWhew! Quite the loaded question, huh? Abstaining from smoking and making sure to attend the gym would be the best course of action; but let’s take a step-by-step approach to answering the question. By now, we all know smoking can cause cancer, emphysema and a myriad of other issues. But is it worse than not exercising?

Disclaimer: Be sure to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen, especially if you’re getting ready to quit smoking AND you don’t exercise much to begin with.

The Verdict: Not exercising is worse for your health than smoking, diabetes and heart disease, a new study from CNN.com reveals. Now that doesn’t mean smoking is healthy, as we stated above, but it does show the importance of getting your sweat on!

We get it – finding time to work out is not always easy. With work and other commitments, squeezing in a gym session can seem overwhelming. Here at Jersey Strong, we know that prioritizing your health and fitness is crucial, so we’ve saved you time and hassle by compiling a list of our favorite exercises that you can complete in just 20 minutes or less.

Now, onto stopping the smoke. Step one? A little motivation. Your fitness routine and energy level will dramatically improve when you give up the butts for good.

You’ll breathe more easily during workouts. Smoking causes damage to almost all of our organs, especially the lungs. Smoking scars the lungs, which leads to that tight feeling in the chest and shortness of breath. When you quit, however, you give your lungs a chance to heal.

SmokeFree.gov says that just after two weeks of quitting, people tend to notice it’s easier to walk up stairs without losing their breath. Think of what this will do for your workouts! Your healthier lungs will work with you, not against you, giving you more stamina, which will allow you to exercise longer and harder over time.

You’ll have an easier time losing belly fat. Who knew, right? But SmokeFree.gov reminds us of this important fact: “Quitting smoking will reduce your belly fat and lower your risk of diabetes.” If you already have diabetes, quitting smoking will make it easier to keep glucose levels in check.

You’ll have a better chance of developing stronger muscles and bones. SmokeFree.gov also points out that your muscles will become stronger and healthier, thanks to the increase in the availability of oxygen in your blood. Plus, you’ll lower your risk for bone fractures.

You’ll have extra money—money that you can re-invest in other wellness areas. Smoking can be an expensive habit. Once you quit for good, you can use that money for other wellness initiatives, such as hiring a personal trainer. A personal trainer is an excellent way to take your fitness to the next level (and your personal trainer can hold you accountable).

Your skin will look better. Let’s face it: when we work out, we want to SEE positive results. Imagine working out and catching your face in the mirror with a pink glow, rather than the sallow look of smoker’s skin. Talk about motivation!

You will feel better in general, which makes it easier to stick to your workouts. Who wants to work out when you’re hacking up a lung or your chest is in pain? When you give up smoking, your body starts to heal right away—and it continues to heal over the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

While “feeling great” will vary from person to person, once you do start to feel a notable, positive difference, it then becomes much easier to commit to and stick with regular workouts. We liken it to a domino effect, albeit a positive one.

You’ll get your taste buds back, making it easier to stick to a nutritious diet. Smoking dulls taste buds. Once you get your taste buds “back,” you might be pleasantly surprised by all the wonderful flavors you’ve been missing out on, especially in the fruit and veggie categories. Creating healthy meal plans will suddenly be fun again and rewarding when you combine your sensible diet with regular workouts.

You’ll stand a better chance of staying smoke-free if you work out regularly. Quitting smoking will help your workouts, but get this: your workouts will also help you maintain your new smoke-free status. Everyday Health says, “Studies have shown that even moderate physical activity, especially aerobic exercise, reduces the urge to smoke.”

Let’s do this. Together!