Expert Q&A

Cigarettes: Will a couple per week affect your workout?

I only smoke a few cigarettes a week. Will this small amount of tobacco affect my workout at all?


Smoking decreases the body's ability to absorb oxygen

Even a modest amount of carbon monoxide in the lungs decreases your body’s ability to absorb oxygen.  It also decreases the amount of oxygen your body transports to your muscles. Moreover, tar coats the lungs and makes it more difficult to breathe.  If that’s not enough, smoking causes a swelling of mucous membranes in the lungs, which also affects breathing.

During exercise the heart has to work harder if your smoke

A smoker’s heart rate is elevated. Thus, when exercise is attempted, the effort seems more arduous and the heart rate speeds quickly.  In all, your heart will have to work harder to do the same amount of work a non-smoker does.  And, you’ll feel less comfortable doing it.  If you’re prone to high blood pressure, smoking makes it worse.

Increased fatigue during and after exercise as a result of smoking

You’ll also find that smoking increases your fatigue level during and after your exercise session.  Endurance is reduced and physical performance may not improve as much as if you did not smoke. 

With all the above negative effects, it’s easy to see that smoking and fitness do not mix.  Taper down from the few cigarettes you’re smoking until you can quit completely.  You won’t regret it.

For more information on the effects of smoking and exericse see the following article from TheDietChannel: Why Smoking & Exercise Don't Mix.

Michele Silence, MA
Contributing Expert

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