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Ment Health Phys Act. 2012 Jun 1;5(1):85-92.

Intermittent exercise in response to cigarette cravings in the context of an Internet-based smoking cessation program.

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SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego, CA 92120, USA ; UCSD Department of Family & Preventive Medicine, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.



Interventions using sustained aerobic exercise programs to aid smoking cessation have resulted in modest, short-term cessation rates comparable to conventional cessation methods. No smoking cessation trial to date has prescribed intermittent bouts of exercise in response to nicotine cravings.


This pilot randomized controlled trial examined the feasibility and efficacy of an Internet-based smoking cessation program alone (CON) vs. the same Internet-based program + intermittent exercise in response to cigarette cravings (EX).


Participants (N = 38; mean age = 43.6 [SD = 11.5]; 60.5% women) were generally healthy, inactive adult smokers who desired to quit.


The overall retention rate was 60.5% (n = 23), and no significant retention rate differences were found between groups (EX vs. CON). Although retained participants achieved a higher cessation rate (26.1%) than all enrolled participants (15.8%), adjusted intent-to-treat and per-protocol binary logistic regression analyses revealed no significant cessation rate differences between EX and CON groups. Linear regression results indicated that additional days of self-reported exercise on the study website during the intervention phase predicted significantly higher reduction rates among EX group participants, F(2, 16) = 31.08, p < .001.


Results were mixed with regard to the incremental benefit of exercise in the presence of the apparently valuable Internet-based smoking cessation program. The results support findings from related research and underscore the need for additional investigation into both the mechanisms underlying the effect of exercise on cigarette cravings and the challenges of poor adherence in the context of exercise-based smoking cessation interventions.


Exercise; Internet; Intervention; Pilot; Randomized controlled trial; Smoking cessation

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