Tobacco use kills more than five million people per year and smoking is the world's single most preventable cause of death. As a result, researchers at Western University are now actively combating cigarette cravings through exercise and a new study has delivered promising results.
In the study, Amelia Tritter, Lyndsay Fitzgeorge and Harry Prapavessis from Western's Faculty of Health Sciences successfully alleviated cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms for a group of 30 habitual smokers by combining the use of nicotine lozenges with moderately-intense sessions of exercise.
Study participants that satisfied cravings using only nicotine lozenges reduced their cravings by 30 per cent while participants that combined nicotine lozenges with exercise reduced cravings by 45 per cent.
The findings were published by Psychopharmacology, an international journal that covers the broad topic of how drugs affect behavior.
Nicotine lozenges have a proven track record for relieving cigarette cravings but previous studies have shown that relapses occur and may not be a long-term solution. Additionally, a single session of exercise has also produced positive results in craving reduction but smokers maintaining a fitness program following initial attempts have often proved difficult.
Tritter, Fitzgeorge, and Prapavessis set out to prove that combining both effective therapies would yield higher craving relief and the results were impressive.
"We were interested in combining different treatments in an effort to maximize craving relief because we know that it's the cravings that play such a big role in why someone relapses," explains Prapavessis, who serves as director of Western's Exercise and Health Psychology Laboratory.
Prapavessis noted that the recommended intensity of exercise was achievable for any able-bodied individuals and the duration would last no more than 10 to 15 minutes.
"Based on these findings, we would highly recommend smokers who attempt to quit employ both nicotine lozenges and exercise simultaneously to maximize reductions in cravings," says Prapavessis.