Written by R. S Jacobs
Before I get down to business, let me begin this with a very alarming fact: smoking is the biggest underlying cause of death across the entire planet. Whether it be first or second-hand (passive) smoking, the effects of smoking are the main killer “drug” readily available on our streets.
It is considered in the medical field to be the hidden cause of a wide range of diseases, making it one of the commercialised poisons available for purchase by anyone who is at the age of consent. Studies have shown the devastating effect that smoking has on the foetus during pregnancy and unsurprisingly, it has a huge impact on those who inhale through secondhand or passive smoking. Decade upon decade, there seem to be an overwhelming amount of proven medical facts about the deadly consequence that smoking has on our health. In fact, did you know that in some countries, smoking in the car with a child present is considered an illegal offence? This increasingly expensive habit affects not only your health but also the health of others around you.
I still can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that the nicotine industry is growing year on year, via cigarettes, tobacco, vaping (the new trend which was marketed as better but recent studies are showing is actually worse) or even products created to help you quit smoking containing…..wait for it….NICOTINE! The mere fact that 90% of smokers across the world are likely to get a form of cancer at some stage in their life should be reason enough to quit immediately or ideally never start this dirty habit in the first place.
Putting all this medical information to one side, I wanted to look at the impact that smoking has on your fitness level. Many of the people I train with have the most amazing diet and exercise routine, but can’t seem to give up this deadly vice, or perhaps they are just not willing to. To put it very simply, when you inhale smoke, you’re taking in substances that have a detrimental effect on the overall function of your lungs. Eventually over time, with repeated toxic inhalation, your lungs would start to find it difficult to effectively process the basic essential task of taking in oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. As fitness enthusiasts, we know that breathing is at the core of pretty much every exercise, training routine or even just physical activity. When your lungs are able to perform under extreme levels of endurance, you are able to perform better and more effectively.
Something that many fitness smokers don’t realise is that smoking increases the lactic acid levels within your body, which of course has an undesirable effect on your workouts. Lactic acid is a compound produced by the muscles when glucose is oxidised and broken down. This compound makes the muscles ache in order to force an increase in breathing, which means the body takes in more oxygen to relieve pain.
Smokers generally have lower stamina in terms of shortness of breath, in addition to suffering from poor circulation as a result of excessive amounts of carbon monoxide in the bloodstream. This gas deprives every organ of elements essential to withstand the strenuous demands of physical activity, and don’t forget this includes tissues and muscles.
Negative Effects of Smoking
* Weaker Bones. We all assume that smoking leads to inflammation only in the lungs, but it actually goes much deeper than that. Smoking causes the bones and joints to weaken over time due to its depleting characteristics. Therefore, your fitness routine will inevitably suffer as you begin to develop conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, sprains, lower back pains, and much more.
* Wrinkled Skin. Let’s keep it real, one of the main reasons that people work out is to look good, by looking good, they feel good and vice versa. The aim is to maintain our youthful looks for as long as possible, by exercising and eating right. If you put in so much effort in the gym/home, why on God’s green earth would you even be tempted to take a substance that would not only cancel out all your hard work but actually work against it. Smoking damages collagen and prevents oxygen from nourishing the skin, which is the main reason why many smokers have a lot of wrinkles. It also a leading cause of tooth decay, tooth loss and overall bad breath.
* Damaged Organs. Smoking damages the essential organs like the heart, lungs, pancreas, liver, kidney and skin. It goes as far as to constrict blood supply to the brain, which is often one of the reasons for strokes. Having a stroke (depending on the severity) can lead to partial or even full paralysis, which can completely stop you from working out for a very long time or in worst case scenarios, be irreversible. It also is a common cause of erectile dysfunction due to restricted blood supply to the reproductive organ.
* Cancer Trigger. It is a known fact that smoking is a huge trigger towards cancer cells growing in the lungs, throat, lips, bladder, liver, pancreas, and kidneys to name a few. These are some of the more severe cancers, that often have fatal consequences and result in a huge number of avoidable deaths every single year.
* Nervous System. Smoking alters your nervous system which can cause injuries due to poor coordination, and it not only promotes nerve damage but it actively prevents healing. Recovery time after each workout becomes longer, without seeing any substantial post workout results. Researchers have found out that smoking can lead to severe neurological damage because a compound in tobacco literally provokes white blood cells to attack healthy cells in the brain.
* Taste Buds. Smoking weakens your sense of taste and smell, so food becomes less enjoyable. Due to a reduced sense of smell, many smokers don’t realise that they are emitting often an offensive and unpleasant stench. Toxic chemicals found in cigarettes interact with the brain’s sense of taste and distort everything so your brain is hardwired to crave the taste of the nicotine over actual food. The good news is that when a person stops smoking, the body quickly restores all of these wonderful senses.
* Digestive System. Smoking contributes to disorders such as heartburn, ulcers, and insulin resistance. Smoking also increases the likelihood of getting Crohn’s disease, gallstones, pancreatitis and stomach cancer. Obviously, with a messed up digestive system, the breakdown and distribution of essential nutrients around the body fail to reach the intended cells.
The bottom line is that, smoking is bad and it has a destructive effect on your overall health/fitness. There should be a zero tolerance principle when it comes to smoking. It seriously inhibits your wellbeing, which in some cases can lead to permanent repercussions. To lead a healthy lifestyle, you need to consciously devote yourself to a clean living standard – inside and out. Quitting smoking might the hardest thing you ever do, as nicotine was created to be highly addictive, but it is far easier than fighting a disease. Like I always say, prevention is better than a cure!
Stay strong, warriors!
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