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14-04-2013 | Psychology | Article

Adolescent cigarette use reduced by exercise


Free abstract

medwireNews: Regular exercise significantly reduces daily cigarette use among adolescents, report researchers in the Journal of Adolescent Medicine.

"Evidence suggests that physical activity may offer benefits for smokers trying to quit, including decreasing cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and stress management," say Kimberly Horn (George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, Washington DC, USA) and colleagues.

They therefore assessed whether the addition of a physical activity module (FIT) to a Not-On-Tobacco (NOT) teenage smoking cessation program would help adolescents reduce their smoking levels.

In total, 233 teenagers who were current smokers (smoked at least one cigarette within past 30 days) were included in the study. The participants were randomly assigned to receive usual care (one advice session), to take part in a NOT program (up to 11 group NOT sessions offering help on quitting), or to a NOT program plus FIT (up to 11 normal NOT sessions plus a session on the benefits of physical activity, and provision of a pedometer and record keeping log).

Boys and girls in the NOT plus FIT group had the greatest reduction in smoking over the 3 months of the study compared with the other groups.

Teenagers who increased the number of days in which they participated in 20 minutes of physical exercise or more over the study period had a significant reduction in daily cigarette use at 3 months. For example, 5.1% of those in the NOT plus FIT group reported getting at least 20 minutes of exercise per day in the last 7 days at baseline compared with 31.9% of the same group at 6 months.

Horn and team note that although the exercise increase was greatest in those in the NOT plus FIT group, all three groups increased their levels of exercise from baseline.

"These findings suggest that incorporating physical activity into teen smoking cessation intervention may be a useful strategy for simultaneous positive health behavior change in both tobacco reduction and physical activity. In a more general way, this study provides support for the concept that encouraging one healthy behavior can serve to promote another," say the authors.

"Future research is needed to uncover the generalizability of these findings, the specific physical activity content that influences behavior change, the mechanisms whereby physical activity may facilitate smoking cessation and reduction, and cost-effective strategies for simultaneously addressing multiple health behaviors to enhance adolescent health," they conclude.

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Helen Albert, Senior medwireNews Reporter

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