by Jessica Von Duerring, Senior Copywriter & Certified Pilates Instructor
Did you know that exposure to cigarette smoke is the number one cause of preventable death worldwide?1 The upside is that it is never too late to kick the detrimental habit, and even the oldest, most long-time smokers can reap substantial benefits from doing so. Here are five ways to resist cigarette cravings to help you, or a loved one, quit for good.
1. Warn others, or remind yourself, that continuing to smoke will increase the chance of dying from smoking-induced diseases (such as cancer, lung or cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, stroke and many other serious diseases) to 67 percent for the very young, and 40 percent for the elderly. By quitting today, that risk will be significantly reduced (by 25 percent at old age, and by much more before age 40). Smokers over the age of 60 could reduce their risk of premature death 28 percent by quitting!2
2. Chew on healthy snacks and drink plenty of water. To help curb the oral fixation of smoking, give your mouth something to chew on. While chewing on gum or hard candy can do the trick, healthier options include crunching on carrots, celery, apples, nuts or even flavored toothpicks. It’s also important to drink plenty of water as dehydration causes cravings, and avoid beverages such as coffee or alcohol that you may have associated with smoking in the past.
3. Exercise much more frequently (at least 30 minutes per day). Exercising has countless benefits, but a recent study has also shown that people who exercise are 55 percent more likely to quit, and 43 percent less likely to relapse into smoking.3 The reason? Cigarettes alleviate stress for many smokers. When giving up cigarettes, stress levels are likely to surge. Exercise is an excellent, natural stress reliever and can replace dependence on cigarettes for stress relief. If you find it hard to discipline or motivate yourself to exercise, a Certified Personal Trainer can give you that extra nudge you need.
4. Practice relaxation techniques. As mentioned above, trying to resist a tobacco craving can be very stressful – and stress alone can cause a wide range of problems. In addition to exercise, practicing relaxation techniques can help take the edge off stress. Try deep-breathing exercises such as yoga or Pilates, or treat yourself to a massage to relax your muscles.
5. Get support from family, friends and coworkers. Living, working or socializing with smokers can trigger cravings, so let the people around you know you are trying to quit, and ask that smokers not smoke around you or offer you cigarettes. Also, avoid situations that you know might lead you to smoke, and remove smoking paraphernalia (such as ash trays and lighters) from your home and office.
Quitting smoking is challenging, but with the right mentality, plan, and support, you can succeed. Choose now to live a longer, healthier life as well as protect the health of those around you.
1. 11The World Health Organization
2. 2 TIME Magazine (June 2012) It’s Never Too Late to Quit Smoking
3 Eurekalert.org Exercise helps smokers to quit smoking, to remain smoke-free
and to reduce the risk of death http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-04/whf-ehs041612.php