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After Exercise, Smokers Are Less Aware of Visual Smoking Cues

After Exercise, Smokers Are Less Aware of Visual Smoking Cues
© Photo Credit: Lanier67
A short period of exercise reduces smokers’ interest in cigarettes.

Researchers at the University of Exeter knew that brief periods of exercise helped people quitting tobacco deal with cravings. They wanted to know if exercise could reduce the power of visual triggers to smoke, and if so, by how much.

The researchers invited 20 heavy smokers, who had each abstained for a lengthy 15 hours, to their laboratory.

Each person was shown a serious of pictures, some with smoking imagery, and others pictures without, and using new gaze measurement technology, the research team was able to measure how quickly the subjects noticed each smoking stimuli and for how long they each gazed at it.

The subjects, over a period of 2 visits, spent the next 15 minutes either exercising on a stationary bike or sitting quietly at a table, and then the images were presented again.

The results:

  • Smokers who spent 15 minutes exercising spent a significant 11% less time looking at smoking related imagery, and they also took longer to notice the smoking imagery in a picture

Lead researcher, Kate Janse Van Rensburg, commented on the significance of the results by saying, "We know that smoking-related images can be powerful triggers for smokers who are abstaining... Because of this, it's very exciting to find that just a short burst of exercise can somewhat reduce the power of such images.”

The full research findings can be read in the journal, Addiction

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