Toronto, Sep 14: Finding it hard to quit the bad habit of smoking? Joining a running group can help you say no to tobacco, a study has claimed. The study, led by researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC), evaluated Run to Quit -- a national initiative targeting smoking cessation through group-based running clinics. The results showed that half (50.8 per cent) of the people who completed a 10-week programme were able to successfully quit smoking, while 91 per cent reportedly reduced their smoking. "This shows that physical activity can be a successful smoking-cessation aid and that a community-based programme might offer that. Because doing it on your own is very difficult," said lead author Carly Priebe, postdoctoral student at UBC.
The findings were detailed in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity. In all, 168 smokers from across Canada registered for the 2016 Run to Quit programme, and 72 of them stuck it out until the final week, when 37 participants had their claims of quitting verified by carbon-monoxide testing. The weekly sessions included classroom time divided between running instruction and strategies for quitting smoking, plus an outdoor walking/running component that progressed toward a five-kilometre run. Participants had access throughout the programme to one-on-one phone counselling via the national quit-smoking line. The programme also showed improvement in participants' mental health, as well as a reduction of nearly one-third in their average carbon monoxide level. "Even if someone wasn't able to fully quit, reducing their smoking is great," Priebe said. "But it's also about just being active. Most of the participants were new to running, and if it's something that can become part of their lifestyle then there are health benefits that may counteract some of their smoking behaviours," Priebe noted.