Does Smoking Affect Your Gym Performance?
Routine gym goers are doing so not only to meet physical fitness goals, but also to keep their body in tip-top shape. Most gym-goers are not only physically active but they also tend to eat a healthy, wholesome diet in order to achieve their body goals.
Even if you stay active and eat a healthy diet, there are other factors that impact your gym performance. If you’re a smoker, chances are that your habit is having a negative impact on your time spent at the gym.
Here’s what you need to know about how cigarettes affect your gym performance.
Decreased Lung Capacity
Smokers are more likely to feel shortness of breath and chest tightness during everyday life. This is because tar and other compounds found in cigarettes coat the lungs, which makes air sacs less elastic. Smoking also causes phlegm to build up in the lungs and airways, which causes congestion, so it’s harder to breathe.
The risk increases during physical activity. When your lung capacity and oxygen levels throughout the body are decreased, your body isn’t able to use oxygen as effectively. If you want peak performance in the gym, especially when running or any other cardio workout, your body needs enough oxygen. Otherwise, your endurance and performance will be negatively affected.
It’s important to note that lung damage caused by smoking is reversible. However, while the lungs may heal over time, there’s still the risk of chronic respiratory infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
Smoking Impacts the Heart
Routine smoking is known to increase your resting heart rate, which is how many times your heart beats per minute when at a resting state. Smoking causes your heart to have to work even harder, which means that your heart has to beat faster in order to pump blood.
Exercising with an already increased heart rate can elevate your heart rate to dangerous levels. Having a higher resting heart rate may increase the risk of heart attack and even death.
Smoking also impairs the heart’s ability to effectively move blood throughout the body. This is because smoking causes narrowing of the blood vessels, which makes it harder for oxygen to be transported throughout the body. When you exercise, your muscles need oxygen-rich blood. If your muscles are lacking oxygen, your body isn’t able to perform as well, which means lowered endurance.
As a smoker, you may find that you’re unable to run as long, or that it takes more rest between exercises in order to catch your breath and be ready for the next circuit. Some may find that smoking has impacted them so much that they’re unable to finish their workout.
Smoking could be the sole reason why you aren’t reaching your goals or getting the results you want.
Impaired Ability to Heal
Going to the gym on a routine basis takes a toll on your body. When you lift weights, there are small tears in the muscles that must heal in order for them to grow. After a cardio workout, your body needs to restore and repair itself.
If you smoke on a regular basis, a good percentage of your blood content will be made up of carbon monoxide. This toxic compound displaces oxygen, which impairs the body's ability to heal.
Oxygen is a key player in repairing cells throughout the body. Oxygen is also needed in order for the body to absorb protein and other nutrients.
Smokers require more time to heal, especially from strenuous activity after spending hours in the gym. If you continue to smoke you may find that you need more rest days in order to properly heal and to feel ready for your next workout.
How Quitting Can Improve Gym Performance
Quitting smoking has a profound impact on your health. While smoking is a tough habit to quit, it's not impossible. In fact, a 2016 study found that 59% of adults who smoked were able to successfully quit.
So how can you increase your chances of kicking the habit for good? It starts with a quality cessation plan that works for you. One of the biggest mistakes that people make when trying to quit smoking is choosing the cold turkey method. While going cold turkey works for some, many end up failing because of nicotine cravings.
The alternative way to quit smoking is to find an option that gives your body the nicotine it needs, without many of the harmful toxins found in cigarettes. Some options include vaping, nicotine gum or patches, or Black Buffalo, which is a tobacco-free chew.
As a gym-goer, you will also want to use exercise as part of your cessation plan. Routine exercise will actually reduce cravings and help with withdrawal symptoms. Once you quit, you’ll notice that your lung function has greatly improved along with your performance and endurance.