Smokers who indulge in some amount of physical activity may be able to shun their habit better than sedentary smokers, a new study has suggested.
The study from the University of Toronto in Canada studied nearly 23,000 Canadian smokers and about one-quarter of the daily smokers were physically active.
The findings revealed that physically active men were 36 percent more likely to have tried to quit smoking within the past year and women were 37 percent more likely to do so than the less-active smokers.
The physically active smokers, who were more likely to be male and single, began smoking at a younger age, smoked fewer cigarettes per day and tried to quit smoking more often than their inactive counterparts did
''Previous studies have suggested that participating in one healthy behaviour, such as physical activity, may lead to the adoption or maintenance of another positive behaviour, such as smoking cessation,'' said Wayne deRuiter, lead author of the study.
''There's some caution to be used here because we don't know how well [increasing physical activity to stop smoking] would work. By telling people you can use physical activity as a harm- reduction means, this could delay or deter their efforts to quit smoking,'' said Jennifer McClure, Ph.D., an associate investigator at the Center for Health Studies for the Group Health Cooperative in Seattle.
''This would not be the message we would want to convey,'' she added.
DeRuiter said: ''I've had the opportunity to speak with smokers who told me they are 'living proof' that physical activity does assist in smoking cessation.''
''These individuals were, at one time, hardcore smokers who began walking several times throughout the day. As physical activity levels increased, they found they were smoking less until they eventually quit smoking altogether.
''However, I think that these individuals represent a minority,'' he added.
''If we're going to look at physical activity as a means for promoting smoking cessation or reduction, the open question really is - for that larger group that is physically inactive - can we motivate them to initiate that behavioral change?'' said McClure.
The study appears in American Journal of Public Health.