A while back, I wrote an article about the damage drinking alcohol can do to the gains you might experience from working out, but what about smoking cigarettes? Unlike 100 years ago, today there is no debate whatsoever over whether or not cigarettes are bad for your health – everyone agrees inhaling smoke is damaging to your body, especially your lungs. So, does that mean if you are a cigarette smoker who works out, you’re just wasting your time?
Let’s take a look at what’s going on when you smoke and exercise:
Lack of Endurance
Right off the bat, if you smoke, you’re not going to be able to workout as well as you could if you didn’t. Cigarette smokers lack the endurance that their non-smoking counterparts possess – in some cases, by as much as 10 percent.
As a former smoker, I know first hand what smoking does to your mental attitude towards exercise: you feel defeated before you even begin. When you’re a smoker, you kind of inherently realize certain things, like running, aren’t going to be something you can do well; you assume you can’t be athletic. Then you actually try to workout, and within minutes you are coughing, choking, and huffing… so you just give up, because it’s rather unpleasant.
Hindered Fat Loss
Smoking hinders your body’s ability to absorb oxygen and carry it through the blood stream, which in turn hinders your body’s ability to burn fat through the process of fat oxidation. Simply put, the body of a cigarette smoker can’t burn fat as efficiently as the body of a non-smoker.
Hindered Muscle Gains
For the same reason your body can’t burn fat as well as a non-smoker, it also can’t build muscle as well. Less oxygen and blood flow to your muscles, means a slower and longer recovery period.
On the Bright Side
If you are a smoker, performing cardiovascular exercise is good for you and will help reduce the damage smoking causes. Study’s have shown that smokers who perform aerobic exercise at least three times per week are less likely to get lung cancer.
Is it an effort in futility to workout if you’re a smoker? Not exactly. If you’re a smoker, will you get the same results from exercising that a non-smoker will? Definitely not. Whether you smoke cigarettes or not, you should definitely exercise regularly, but don’t expect to get invited to the Olympics any time soon if you’re lighting up after you hit the gym.