Teenage Smoking Curbed By Half Hour Of Exercise
April 10, 2013

Teenage Smoking Curbed By Half Hour Of Exercise

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

According to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, taking a short daily walk may help teenagers quit smoking.

For the study, researchers tracked 233 teenagers from 19 high schools in West Virginia, where nearly 13 percent of West Virginia teenagers are smokers. They found that those who increased their exercise to just 20 minutes a day were able to cut down on their habit, while spending 30 minutes of doing physical activity enticed them to quit altogether.

"This study adds to evidence suggesting that exercise can help teenagers who are trying to quit smoking," says lead author Kimberly Horn, EdD, the Associate Dean for Research at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS).

"Teens who boosted the number of days on which they engaged in at least 20 minutes of exercise, equivalent to a short walk, were more likely than their peers to resist lighting up a cigarette."

All of the participants in the study were daily smokers that reported being involved in other risky behaviors as well. The average teen in the study smoked a half a pack on weekdays, and a pack a day on weekends.

During the study, some teens went through an intensive anti-smoking program combined with fitness intervention while others just got the smoking cessation program and listened to a short anti-smoking lecture. The team found that all of the teens increased their exercise activity to some degree, but teens who reported increasing the number of days they exercised were more likely to cut back on the number of cigarettes they smoked.

"We don't fully understand the clinical relevance of ramping up daily activity to 20 or 30 minutes a day with these teens," Horn said. "But we do know that even modest improvements in exercise may have health benefits. Our study supports the idea that encouraging one healthy behavior can serve to promote another, and it shows that teens, often viewed as resistant to behavior change, can tackle two health behaviors at once."

She also said that more research is needed to help confirm key findings in the study and determine whether they apply to all teen smokers, not just those in West Virginia.

A survey released in December 2012 shows that smoking rates among teens declined from 11.7 percent to 10.6 percent. This study also found that the proportion of students who have ever tried smoking has also fallen dramatically.

Another study released at the end of last year highlighted the dangers of teenage smoking. This study found that teenage girls who smoke accumulate less bone during a critical growth period, causing a higher risk of developing osteoporosis later in life.