Smoking decreases

18 Sep 2014 | Cpl. Mary Carmona

Just a few moments ago, someone remarked to me the best runner they knew smoked regularly, ate pizza multiple times a week, never worked out and didn’t get their eight recommended hours of sleep each night.

I can tell you from a scientific standpoint, whoever that guy is, his smoking and eating habits aren’t the validating points for his 18-minute run time.

In fact, smoking negatively affects running in a few ways.

To understand one of the negative side effects of smoking on runners, let’s discuss the term VO2 max. VO2 max is basically the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use at any given time. As one might assume, the more oxygen you can process, the better.

However, smoking lowers the amount of oxygen your blood absorbs, thus decreasing the amount of oxygen you process overall.

Because of the decreased oxygen levels, the runner’s performance suffers.

Another struggle runners who smoke face is the energy loss. A study conducted at the University of Louisville in 1999 by a cardiopulmonary team showed the average male smoker used 6.3 percent more energy than the non-smoker just doing light exercise.

Let’s face it. Running is hard work. How much more would it deplete the smoker than those in the study conducting light exercise?

Every runner, or even a person who has jogged a few times, knows breathing is an essential aspect of running.

Well, strike three for smoking and running. Smoking restricts your airways, making it difficult for oxygen to travel to your lungs whilst you run.

So, dispel your theories of smoking prior to your next physical fitness test in order to get a 300 – the science says it isn’t so.

There are, however, quite a few personal accounts on the Internet of people using running as a way to quit smoking.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 5 American deaths are a result of a health issue resulting from smoking cigarettes.

According to the LiveStrong website, exercise is one of the healthiest ways to stop smoking.

Running can reduce nicotine withdrawals and diminish stress levels, which often leads to the need for a cigarette in the first place.

Eventually the addiction of running might even replace the addiction of smoking. I say, if you have to choose between the two addictions, you choose the one is proven to improve your health and happiness.