Cigarette smokers often struggle with physical activity. Not only do they find it difficult to get motivated, but they also have a much more difficult time than non-smokers in terms of lung capacity and endurance for exercise. The World Health Organzation highlights that over 22% of the world’s population uses tobacco, signaling the need to curb the habit and divert smokers’ attention to healthier activities.
Cigarette smokers who have an active lifestyle are more likely to quit smoking than those who are inactive. Cycling is a great way to keep your body moving while providing an excellent distraction from the urge to light up. In this article, we’ll discuss the effects of cigarettes on cyclists and offer tips for smokers to safely start this activity:
Effects of cigarettes on physical activity
Cigarette smokers struggle with cycling and other forms of physical activity. Smoking compromises the body’s ability to absorb and utilize oxygen, an essential ingredient for energy production. When this happens, a person has less energy to move around.
Cigarettes are notorious for causing lung damage. CNN reports that cigarette smoking increases the risk of developing lung diseases, such as bronchitis and lung cancer. Smokers who want to get in shape or stay healthy are often faced with a challenge: the lung damage caused by smoking makes it difficult to start intensive workouts like cycling safely.
Tips for smokers to start cycling safely
To set you in motion, we’ve put together some tips for smokers who want to start cycling safely:
1. Cut back on cigarettes
The best way for smokers to get into cycling is to reduce their cigarette intake. Because quitting cold turkey may be difficult and can cause withdrawal symptoms, consider using smoking alternatives such as gums, lozenges, patches, and pouches to wean you off. The On! nicotine pouches listed on Prilla demonstrate how nicotine cravings can be satisfied through smoke-free options that do not damage the lungs. Instead of inhaling smoke into the lungs, the pouches sit under the gum and are slowly absorbed. With products across varying nicotine levels and flavors, these pouches are a safer way to quit smoking. Smoking alternatives such as On! or Nicorette ice mint lozenges can still relieve stress without exposing yourself to harmful chemicals found in tobacco products. Switching to smoking alternatives will ensure that you are healthier when you start cycling without reducing your motivation levels due to any withdrawal symptoms.
2. Start slowly
If you’ve been smoking for years and have been sedentary for most of that time, cycling will feel challenging at first. Heavy smokers should not go full-throttle right away, no matter how exciting cycling as a new hobby can be. You’ll want to ease into cycling and work your way up over time. If you’re having trouble breathing because of the intensity of your workout, stop immediately and take a break until your body has adjusted to its new routine. Once you feel an improvement in your endurance and lung capacity, you can try following the routines featured in our “3 Training Rides to Do Every Week if You Want to Be Faster” post.
3. Cut back on caffeine and stimulants
Caffeine and other stimulants can make it harder for your body to adjust to the physical demands of cycling. They can increase your heart rate and make it difficult for you to breathe freely while riding. If you’ve decided to cut back on smoking, it’s also best to reduce your intake of stimulants. This will help your body get used to its new routine without interference from outside sources. If you’re used to having a cigarette with your coffee in the morning before any physical activity, try replacing both with electrolyte drinks or natural fruit drinks instead. These alternatives will keep your energy up for the road without putting additional stress on your body.
Cycling is an exciting and rewarding experience for everyone. When done safely, cycling can be a great way to get in shape, especially for smokers who want to quit smoking for good.