Exercise and quitting smoking

Exercise can improve your overall health. It can also be useful when quitting smoking and help with the cravings. This factsheet explains the benefits of exercise and lists some ways to add exercise into your day.

What is so good about exercise?
  • Being active can be a good distraction. A short walk around the block will fill in the time you might have spent smoking and can help clear your mind, especially if listening to music.
  • Exercise can help with stress. It can be a practical way to vent your frustration, use up extra energy and improve your mood. Exercise also releases endorphins – the hormone that makes you feel good.
  • Exercise can help to minimise cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Weight gain is a concern for many smokers when quitting. Being active can help you keep weight off when quitting.
  • Being active during the day can help you to fall asleep faster at night and have a deeper sleep.
  • Exercise is good for overall health by improving muscle and bone strength, as well as reducing the risk of health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • Breathing becomes easier and energy levels increase within 72 hours of quitting.
Handy hints to fit exercise into your everyday life
  • Walk up the stairs – instead of taking the lift. This is a good way to burn off some calories and keep blood moving around your body.
  • Park further away – from transport or get off a stop earlier and walk the extra distance.
  • Walk around the block – it’s a great way to clear your mind and short bursts of exercise are good for you.
  • Pack your sneakers – so that you can go for a walk in your lunch break. This is a good way to get some exercise and be more productive in the afternoon.
  • Keep moving – standing up and walking around, such as when making phone calls, can help to add extra movement into the day.
  • Do stretching exercises – stretching is a great way to strengthen your muscles and is good to do before and after exercise. Most people watch the news or a favourite TV show, so why not do some stretching exercises and 10-15 star jumps during ad breaks? Gentle stretching is also a good way to wind down at the end of the day before bed.
  • Build on your exercise once you are comfortable walking around the block, try going a second time or add some light weights. Maybe even start jogging, but if this is hard for you, consider setting yourself small goals like running for the distance between power poles.
  • Choose activities that you like – many activities count as exercise. Whether it is dancing, walking, cycling, or playing basketball, the more you enjoy the exercise the more likely you are to fit it into your day and stick to it.
  • Exercise with a friend – finding a workout partner can help keep you on track and motivate you to get out the door. You will also have someone to celebrate your success with.
  • Exercise guidelines – it is recommended that your activity adds up to 2 ½ to 5 hours during the week. It is best to do some activity on most, if not all days of the week. Doing any activity is better than doing none.

A list of simple exercises that can be done at home using little or no equipment can be found at:

For more information visit

Produced by Nutrition Australia NSW Division, supported by Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, June 2015. 

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