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Experts reveal how exercise is key to successfully quitting smoking

19 December 2017 St George's, University of London

New research has confirmed that exercise can help smokers finally kick the habit.

Experts at St George’s University of London, have examined the mechanism underlining exercise’s way of protecting the body against nicotine dependence and withdrawal.

The study reveals that even moderate intensity exercise markedly reduces the severity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Researchers also showed there was an increased activation of a type of receptor in the brain called α7 nicotinic acetylcholine, which is a target of nicotine.

The findings support the protective effect of exercise preceding smoking cessation against the development of physical dependence, which may aid smoking cessation by reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Dr Alexis Bailey, Senior Lecturer in Neuropharmacology, at St George’s, University of London, said: “The evidence suggests that exercise decreases nicotine withdrawal symptoms in humans; however, the mechanisms mediating this effect are unclear.

“Our research has shed light on how the protective effect of exercise against nicotine dependence actually works.”

In the study, nicotine-treated mice that were undertaking two or 24 hours a day of wheel running exercise displayed a significant reduction of withdrawal symptom severity compared with the sedentary group.

The research is published in the British Journal of Pharmacology.

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