Find Your Stride
When you’re trying to quit smoking, cravings and withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, irritability, restlessness and anxiety can make it difficult to quit. Being physically active can help you through it.
Physical activity helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms, cravings and even weight gain that may accompany quitting smoking efforts. Research suggests that withdrawal symptoms can be reduced for up to 50 minutes after you have stopped exercising. Just like smoking, physical activity increases the release of dopamine and activates the central nervous system. It means that parts of the brain responsible for motivation do react similarly to physical activity and to cigarettes.
Here are two programs that can help you increase physical activity while stopping smoking.
Find Your Stride
Find Your Stride is a free eight-week learn to walk or run program for individuals who use tobacco or have recently quit. Over the eight weeks, local health professionals facilitate weekly group sessions, which include a combination of walking, running and stretching regimes, as well as an education component where you and fellow participants can discuss topics like benefits of physical activity, goal setting, healthy eating, injury prevention, information on tobacco and cessation, and how to remain active.
The program gives you the tools to further develop personal motivation to become more physically active and improve your health based on the knowledge, support, and personal achievements gained throughout the program.
You will be provided with the support you need to quit or reduce tobacco use throughout the program, but quitting tobacco is not a requirement of the program. As you embrace a healthy activity, such as walking or running however, you may be more likely to let go of unhealthy ones, such as using tobacco.
Find Your Stride was adapted from the Learn to Run for Smokers program developed by the Lung Association of Nova Scotia, and is offered by Alberta Health Services.
Run to Quit
Run to Quit is an innovative 10-week smoking cessation program in which participants learn to run 5 kilometres, while receiving practical support on quitting smoking.
The program combines the expertise of the Canadian Cancer Society and the Running Room to coach Canadians on how to quit smoking and improve their overall wellbeing through physical activity. This project has been made possible in part through funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Training programs are offered online or in-store for participants learning to run while receiving practical support on quitting smoking. Participants are guided through a gentle and progressive running program that will teach them to run and/or walk 5 kilometres after 10 weeks.
Participants receive education, resources, and support from Run to Quit Training Instructors, as well as from other smokers in the program. Each participant receives a written guide, coupons for nicotine replacement therapy, and additional support from a quit coach through a toll-free quit line. Run to Quit will be offered at 21 Running Room locations across Canada and two locations in Alberta.
Registration for this program begins mid-January and running clinics scheduled in April.
For more information: www.runtoquit.com