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According to The Guardian, spending on gym membership has increased by 44% in the UK this year. At the same time, the proportion of UK adults that currently smoke tobacco has fallen to just 19.3% – the lowest percentage in nearly 80 years.
Maybe the correlation between these two statistics is a coincidence. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to ignore the relationship between people quitting cigarettes and their desire to get into better shape.
With an estimated 1.3 million regular e-cigarette users in the UK, it’s fair to say that a large number of recent tobacco quitters have done so with aid of vaping. If you’re a heavy smoker looking to get into fitness, the good news is that switching from tobacco to e-cigarettes can also help you exercise effectively.
How can electronic cigarettes help with regaining fitness?
Speaking to Unbound, Professor Robert West of University College London provided two reasons why electronic cigarettes can help smokers regain fitness through exercise:
- Traditional cigarettes contain tobacco, e-cigarettes don’t. Therefore switching to vaping can help clear your lungs, which dramatically improves your capacity for exercise.
- When you smoke, one in 20 blood cells get tied up with carbon monoxide. When you switch to vaping, these cells are once again freed to carry oxygen around your body.
Slow and steady wins the race
When exercising, the most important thing is to ensure that you increase your heart rate gradually, while also ensuring your lungs start to work more than usual. That said, if you have been a heavy smoker for years, the chances are you’ve done very little exercise in that time. If this is the case, it’s best to start off slow and steady by:
- Doing just 15 minutes of gentle exercise every day at first
- Keeping things simple by going for a brisk walk around the block, or in your local park
- Every few days, increasing the duration of the gentle exercise by around 5 minutes
Upping your level
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When you get a point when you can comfortably walk at a brisk pace for 40 minutes or more, you’re ready to progress to the next level. Perhaps the most natural progression from walking briskly is start jogging, although you could also try swimming or cycling.
How you exercise is up to you. But the most important thing to remember is you need to keep pushing yourself so that your heart rate continues to elevate gradually while exercising.
Many fitness instructors will use a scale called the perceived rate of exhaustion (PRE) to judge how hard you’re exercising. On this scale, one is not moving at all, and 10 is exercising as hard as your possibly can. When upping your level, start exercising at about a five or six on this scale, and work your way up by:
- Once again, doing 15 minutes of more intense exercise every day
- Every few days, adding five minutes to your regime
- Stopping when you can once again manage 40 minutes of more intense exercise
Before and after intense exercise – and jogging, in particular – it’s important that you perform the appropriate stretches to avoid causing yourself an injury. For more information, Nerd Fitness have created an excellent guide on how to stretch after a workout.
What to eat and drink when exercising
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If you are serious about getting fit after ditching cigarettes, you will need to tweak your diet to ensure that you get the nutrition you need before and after exercising. This guide provides an excellent overview of the types of food you should be eating to fuel your fitness regime.
If you’re looking to get fit after ditching cigarettes, however, there are certain foods that can also help your body detox:
Carrots: The red-orange pigment found in carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes and some other orange plants and fruits is called beta-carotene. This pigment is extremely rich in vitamin A, which helps the body to maintain healthy skin and membrane such as your lungs’ inner walls.
Broccoli: Brassica vegetables such as broccoli, kale and sprouts are rich in isothiocyanate. This chemical compound is proven to help prevent lung cancer.
Oranges: Smoking lowers your body’s vitamin C levels. So oranges, guavas, kiwis, berries or any other fruits rich in vitamin C are great for ex-tobacco smokers to eat.
Antioxidants: Antioxidants are great for promoting good health and fighting disease. Examples of foods that are rich in antioxidants include prunes, raisins, blueberries and even dark chocolate.
Don’t give up
After years of smoking tobacco, creating a fitness regime – and sticking to it – is going to be difficult. Even if you don’t see results straight away, if you get into the habit of doing a little bit of exercise every day, they will eventually come. For this reason, the most important thing is not to give up.
If you’re a heavy smoker looking to get into fitness, making the switch from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes can help. Our range of easy-to-use iCig Electronic Cigarette Starter Kits include everything you’ll need to start vaping straight away – including an e-cig, charger, case and refill cartridges.
Alternatively, if you want to learn more about the additional benefits of switching from tobacco to e-cigarettes, check out our guide: To Vape or Not to Vape? Investigating the Benefits of Electronic Cigarettes.