by Himabindu Venkatakrishnan on  July 14, 2015 at 5:43 PM Health In Focus
Effect of an Exercise Intervention to Quit Smoking During Pregnancy
Smoking cessation using a physical therapy intervention programme may not be a recommended method for pregnant women, according to a recent study. However, the benefits of physical activity in pregnancy unless otherwise contraindicated should not be ignored.

Smoking cessation programs incorporate a variety of activities and ideas to help quit smoking habits. Many women who smoke may consider smoking cessation during pregnancy. Women are aware of the consequences of smoking during pregnancy and also the smoking cessation benefits.

One of the main preventable causes of ill-health and death among women and infants is maternal smoking during pregnancy. Adverse pregnancy and birth problems like miscarriage, prematurity, still birth, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, etc. are found to be associated with prenatal maternal smoking.

Smoking cessation benefits, especially during pregnancy, can be innumerable. Smoking cessation helps in overall improvement of health; by reducing the accumulated carbon monoxide levels in blood and improves lung function. The risk of cardiovascular diseases reduces to half of that of a smoker by about a year of quitting.

Benefits of Quitting Smoking in Pregnant Women include:

Benefits for the Baby:
  • Better oxygen supply to the baby, even by the next day of not smoking.
  • Reducing the risk of asthma or bronchitis in the baby to be born.
  • Reducing the risk of premature or low-birth weight baby.
Benefits for the Mother:
  • Reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, chronic lung disease, etc.
  • Better energy levels and easy breathing.
  • Improved taste of food.
  • Saving on the expenditure on cigarettes.
Smoking cessation therapy for pregnant women is different from the smoking cessation therapy for others. During pregnancy, the effect of nicotine therapy is found to be minimal.

In general, exercise can help in smoking cessation in the following ways.
  • Exercise can ease the nicotine withdrawal symptoms by keeping the good hormones flowing.
  • Physical activity reduces stress levels and keeps you in high spirits. Exercising can promote the release of the "feel good" hormones called endorphins that help keep the stress, depression, aches and pains away.
  • Exercise can be a good diversion and a healthy alternative to fill up the time-gap of the smoking habit.
  • Many people gain weight when they are trying to quit smoking through other therapies like medications and behavior modification. Exercises and physical activities can help keep the excess weight off.
Exercise during pregnancy unless otherwise contraindicated not only helps to quit smoking, it has some additional benefits as well.

Benefits of Physical Activity in Pregnant Women include:
  • Helps boost up energy levels
  • Helps in getting better sleep
  • Eases aches and pains
  • Prevents unnecessary weight gain
  • Increases muscle strength and stamina
  • Prepares for childbirth
  • Reduces stress and helps the pregnant woman to keep calm and happy
  • Helps lose pregnancy-related fat faster after childbirth
Exercising during pregnancy must be done only after consulting the doctor and ruling out any contraindications to exercise during pregnancy. Pregnant women can include the following in their physical activity routine:
  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Brisk walking
  • Low impact aerobic exercises
  • Strength training
  • Stretching
Studies have been done to find the effects of exercise or physical activity on smoking cessation during pregnancy. One such study that was recently published in the British Medical Journal was conducted on 789 pregnant smokers, aged 16 to 50 years, at 10 to 24 weeks of gestation. The target quit date was agreed to be set a week after enrolment. All women received 6 weekly sessions of behavioral support for smoking cessation. In addition, around half the women received 14 sessions of supervised treadmill exercise and consultation for physical activity.

The study found that smoking cessation rates among group that performed physical activity along with behavioral therapy and the one that underwent only behavior therapy are similar. This was confirmed with tests that supported the participants' claims of quitting. Therefore, the influence of physical activity on smoking cessation was not significant.

Although research may indicate that inclusion of physical activity in smoking cessation programs in pregnancy does not contribute significantly to smoking cessation, physical activity has a great influence in the improvement of overall physical and mental health in most individuals.

Source: Medindia

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