I was recently asked by a friend on Facebook if I had any good ideals on exercises she could do to help alleviate knee pain that had developed after she had quit smoking and had gained weight. Many people suffering similar problems when they quit smoking. Smoking is the leading cause of all avoidable illnesses and deaths in the U.S. The average nonsmoker lives approximately 9 years longer than the average smoker. For each year a nonsmoker stays away from cigarettes, they could be adding almost a year back onto their lives, depending on other issues such as diet, exercise, how much per day they had smoked, their brand of cigarettes, and other factors which play into longevity such as genetics. So why do people feel so lousy after they stop doing something which is obviously so bad for their health?
Several factors weigh into consideration. Nicotine is perhaps the most addictive drug on the planet. There is a higher rate of recitivism
for former smokers than among recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. As a matter of fact fact, it is not uncommon to hear stories of recovering alcoholics or drug addicts who started smoking when they entered a rehab. They merely switched addictions. Like many other addictive substances nicotine causes a change in people on a cellular level. However, being a stimulant nicotine causes a change on a metabolic level. When they quit smoking their metabolism slows which causes a slower caloric resting burn rate. Ironically, it often creates an increase in hunger. For a person who smokes a pack a day the mere fact that they are lifting a cigarette to their mouths over 20 times a day creates a behaviorial pattern which is often substituted by popping a piece of candy in their mouths. This alone can add an extra 500 to 1000 calories a day. For a person who gets past the first 30 days of non smoking, the primary cause of relapse is not from nicotine withdrawal, but due to weight gain, anxiety, and stress. The associated gain in weight cause knee pain, back pain and other physical symptoms. New nonsmokers often relapse simply because they don’t like the extra weight they have gained.
A better idea would be to appease the oral fixation with healhy snacks such as celery or carrots, and to engage in a regular exercise program to help boost their metabolism. These behavior patterns will not only help lose the additional weight and alleviate a aches and pains, but also help reverse the cardio pulminary and respiratory damage that smoking for years has caused.