Sustained aerobic exercise has potential as a smoking cessation treatment in women

Acute effects of moderate intensity aerobic exercise on affective withdrawal symptoms and cravings among women smokers.

Addict Behav. 2011 Aug;36(8):894-7. Epub 2011 Apr 15.
Williams DM, Dunsiger S, Whiteley JA, Ussher MH, Ciccolo JT, Jennings EG.
Brown University, United States.

A growing number of laboratory studies have shown that acute bouts of aerobic exercise favorably impact affect and cravings among smokers. However, randomized trials have generally shown exercise to have no favorable effect on smoking cessation or withdrawal symptoms during quit attempts. The purpose of the present study was to explore this apparent contradiction by assessing acute changes in affect and cravings immediately prior to and following each exercise and contact control session during an eight-week smoking cessation trial. Sixty previously low-active, healthy, female smokers were randomized to an eight-week program consisting of brief baseline smoking cessation counseling and the nicotine patch plus either three sessions/week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise or contact control. Findings revealed a favorable impact of exercise on acute changes in positive activated affect (i.e., energy), negative deactivated affect (i.e., tiredness), and cigarette cravings relative to contact control. However, effects dissipated from session to session. Results suggest that aerobic exercise has potential as a smoking cessation treatment, but that it must be engaged in frequently and consistently over time in order to derive benefits. T hus, it is not surprising that previous randomized controlled trials-in which adherence to exercise programs has generally been poor-have been unsuccessful in showing effects of aerobic exercise on smoking cessation outcomes.


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