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Nicotine Tob Res. 2007 Nov;9(11):1183-90.

Walking reduces cue-elicited cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and delays ad libitum smoking.

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School of Sport & Health Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, United Kingdom.


Stress and exposure to smoking cues influence smoking cravings and behavior. Exercise appears to reduce cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms, but no study has investigated the effects of exercise on cue-elicited cravings and withdrawal symptoms, or ad libitum smoking behavior. In this study, 60 regular smokers, invited by public advertisements, were assessed at baseline following 2 hr of abstinence, and randomized to a 15-min brisk walk or passive condition. Both groups then completed three tasks (Stroop color-word interference task, speech task, and handling a lit cigarette). Cravings were assessed with two single items, and withdrawal symptoms were assessed using the seven-item Mood and Physical Symptoms Scale. After the laboratory session, ad libitum smoking was determined from the subject's cell phone text message. Exercise (mean heart rate reserve = 24%) attenuated increases in strength of desire to smoke, tension, poor concentration, and stress, in response to a lit cigarette, but had minimal effects on increases in cravings and withdrawal symptoms in response to the stressors. Absolute levels of cravings and withdrawal symptoms were reduced during and following exercise. Exercisers engaged in ad libitum smoking a net 57 min (CI = 31-83) later than those in the passive condition. A 15-min brisk walk not only reduced cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms but also could attenuate increases in cue-elicited cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and increase the time between cigarettes smoked.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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