Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Benefits of Quitting Smoking

by Jason Bosley-Smith, CSCS, Live Well @ LifeBridge

Today is The Great American Smokeout. There are myriad of reasons to kick the habit, but the key is to determine YOUR reason—your “why” for quitting once and for all.

If you are considering quitting and want to be successful, begin first by sitting down and writing out your motivation. By now, most of us know the serious health impact smoking causes, which can provide a good place to start. Also consider what smoking will mean for you and your quality of life. What will quitting allow you to do that you feel you miss out on now? How will you feel both physically and mentally once you quit? What kind of example will your success be for those around you?

To provide you with some additional ammunition to get going, here is a timeline from the American Cancer Society that shows what you can expect to experience physically once you take that last puff and quit for good:

Even as soon as 20 minutes after a smoker smokes their last cigarette, their body begins the healing process.

Short-term Benefits
At 20 minutes after quitting:
• Blood pressure decreases
• Pulse rate drops
• Body temperature of hands and feet increases

At 8 hours:
• Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal
• Oxygen level in blood increases to normal

At 24 hours:
Chance of a heart attack decreases

At 48 hours:
• Nerve endings start to regrow
• Ability to smell and taste is enhanced

At 2 weeks to 3 months:
• Circulation improves
• Walking becomes easier
• Lung function increases

1 to 9 months:
Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, shortness of breath decreases

1 year:
Excess risk of coronary heart disease is decreased to half that of a smoker

Long-term Benefits
At 5 years:
From 5 to 15 years after quitting, stroke risk is reduced to that of people who have never smoked.

At 10 years:
• Risk of lung cancer drops to as little as one-half that of continuing smokers
• Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas decreases
• Risk of ulcer decreases

At 15 years:
• Risk of coronary heart disease is now similar to that of people who have never smoked
• Risk of death returns to nearly the level of people who have never smoked

Other Benefits of Quitting
• Cigarettes are expensive
• No odor of smoke in your clothes and hair
• A healthy example for children and grandchildren
• A more sensitive sense of smell
• A better sense of taste
• Family members, particularly children, will be healthier because they aren't breathing in your smoke.

It is NEVER TOO LATE to quit! A smoker who quits smoking is likely to add years to their life, breathe more easily, and have more energy.

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