Health benefits of quitting smoking for you and yours
Have you been smoking for so long that it feels like you’ll never be able to stop successfully, plus you’ve tried and failed numerous times in the past, so why would this time be any different? But is it ever really a ‘failure’ when you’ve made progress toward your ultimate goal of quitting, even if it felt like a temporary one at the time?
Breaking the chain of addiction
Just remember that nicotine is a highly-addictive substance and tobacco dependency is an addiction which is never easy to overcome, despite some people claiming to be able to stop whenever they want to without any problems – as if! Be kind to yourself but also realistic – do you really want to kick the habit and break free from your addiction and take back control? If you are serious about stopping and have genuine motivations, you can be successful and a healthier future could be yours for the taking.
Many ex-smokers who have remained smoke-free for many months or even years cite their primary motivator as their own health, and most of us are familiar with the obvious concern, such as a decreased risk of various cancers. And we all know without doubt that smoking is a killer – according to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), smoking is responsible for one in five UK deaths and tragically around half of all long-term smokers will die prematurely from a smoking-related disease.
And it’s not just personal health at stake, what of the health of those around you, your children and other family members who may be exposed to your second-hand cigarette smoke on a regular basis? Many parents-to-be find that, whilst waiting for their precious firstborn child to arrive, they re-examine their own health and future goals. With their new dependents in mind, understandably, the vast majority will want to ensure they stay fit and healthy for as long as possible.
Reaping the benefits - the health benefits of stopping smoking over time
Day 1 – 7
Once you’ve got that tricky business of nicotine withdrawal out of the way (check out our Three Quick Tips to help keep you distracted), which may include irritability, restlessness and poor concentration, you’ll begin to feel more energised as your body clears the harmful chemicals and toxins from your system.
Some of the health benefits of giving up smoking may be felt almost immediately, with easier breathing, less coughing and less irritation in the throat. And as soon as 12 hours after your last cigarette, the levels of carbon monoxide (part of the highly toxic fumes which emerge from your car exhaust pipe!) in your bloodstream will decrease to near normal levels and your blood oxygen level will increase accordingly.
So stick with it, the withdrawal period will pass, peaking at around 48 hours and passing completely by two weeks – after this it really is just force of habit that you will be battling against. The early days may prove hard going at times but remember, millions before you have been successful and there’s no reason you can’t join them and become a healthier (and wealthier!) ex-smoker too.
Day 8 -28
Give it a few more weeks and you will begin to benefit from a reduction in blood pressure and improvements to circulation and blood oxygen levels, making everyday activities and exercise easier. You’ll also begin to find that you suffer less with coughs and colds as your immune system is boosted and the increased oxygen in your bloodstream should make you feel more energised and less tired at the end of each day.
1 month – 3 months
As the months continue to pass and you remain smoke-free, you may begin to notice further improvements to your energy levels and immunity, but also lowered stress levels as you will no longer be battling with the craving and withdrawal cycle and you may also notice a marked improvement in your senses of smell and taste. Your risk of suffering a heart attack will begin to decrease.
Some former smokers report still suffering from a cough in the early weeks and months, which may be your lungs actively beginning to clear themselves. However, if you have had a persistent cough for three or more weeks, see your GP for a check-up.
3 months – 9 months
According to NHS Choices, most smokers will benefit from a 10% increase in lung capacity within nine months of stopping smoking, which in older people may mean the difference between staying active and feeling short of breath and wheezy when carrying out everyday activities.
Along with all the other benefits outlined above, your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attack will have reduced to around half that of a smoker.
5 years +
In addition to the well-known benefits of stopping smoking in the longer-term, including decreased cancer and cardiovascular disease risk and a lowered risk of developing chronic lung conditions, other long-term benefits include improved fertility, a longer life expectancy and a healthier bank balance. In addition, once you have stopped smoking for five years or more, your chances of developing diabetes will compare favourably to that of someone who has never smoked.
Read more about our Top Ten benefits of quitting smoking.
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