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This Is What Happens When You Quit Smoking Now

This Is What Happens When You Quit Smoking Now

It’s estimated that in the U.S. up to 25% of the population 18 years of age and older actively smoke cigarettes. Scientists have identified approximately 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, with more than 50 of them known to cause various cancers. As a matter of fact, the World Health Organization, or WHO, has stated that globally one person dies every six seconds from the use of tobacco. It is estimated that one out of every two smokers will die from tobacco-related diseases, such as cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart attack, stroke and other illnesses.

While the effects from smoking tobacco are cumulative, it is possible to reverse the effects of smoking. Quitting smoking now greatly reduces the chances that you will experience a smoking-related disease, and could increase your lifespan significantly. Your body will begin to heal almost immediately after your last cigarette, and will continue to repair the damage in the days, weeks, months, and years after you have quit.

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What happens after you stop smoking?

  • In the 20 minutes immediately following your last cigarette, your blood pressure and pulse rate begin to return to normal and the circulation to your extremities increases, delivering much needed, oxygen-rich blood.
  • Eight hours after your last cigarette, the carbon monoxide in your system has been 100% eliminated, replaced by the oxygen your cells need to function normally.
  • 24 hours after your last cigarette, your risk of having a heart attack begins to decrease thanks to the normalization of your heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygenation.
  • 48 hours after your last cigarette, the nerve endings that have been blunted begin to reawaken and your sense of smell and taste begin to re-emerge.
  • Between two weeks and three months after your last cigarette, your circulation continues to improve and you can now breathe easier. Your lungs now produce less phlegm and your lung function has begun to improve. Your ability to participate in physical activity is greater, as shortness of breath becomes less of an issue.
  • In one to nine months after your last cigarette, you will notice a significant decrease in your smoker’s cough. Sinus congestion lessens and fatigue and shortness of breath become virtually non-existent. The tiny, hair-like structures that line the interior of your lung cavities become active once more, and your lungs are now functioning much like they did before you began smoking.
  • One year after your last cigarette, your risk of having a heart attack is less than half of that of a regular smoker.
  • Between five and 15 years after your last cigarette, you are at no more risk of having a stroke than other non-smokers.
  • 10 years after your last cigarette, your risk of developing lung cancer drops significantly. Additionally, your risk of developing other cancers, such as that of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas, significantly decreases. Although you have not smoked a cigarette in 10 years, you still have a higher risk of developing lung cancer than someone who has never smoked, but your risks are significantly decreased than if you had continued smoking.

Why is it so difficult to quit smoking?

So, with all of the negative health impacts that are known to be associated with cigarette smoking, why would we continue to smoke?

In one word: nicotine.

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Nicotine is the active ingredient in tobacco and what addicts us to smoking in the first place. It is an organic compound known as an alkaloid and can be found in the leaves of several species of plants, although the main route of consumption is through tobacco. It can also be found in the nightshade, or Solanaceae, family of plants, including tomatoes, potatoes, aubergines (eggplant) and peppers. While nicotine by itself is not carcinogenic, it does contribute to apoptosis by inhibiting UV-induced activation of cell death, a process known to interfere with your body’s ability to destroy potentially cancerous cells.

When smokers try to cut back or quit smoking, they experience withdrawal, a rather unpleasant process whereby the brain triggers a cascade of symptoms designed to drive us to consume nicotine. For most smokers, quitting cold turkey is not an option. The withdrawal process is much too unpleasant and difficult to overcome. However using a nicotine replacement therapy while withdrawing from nicotine has shown to be a successful alternative and has helped many people quit for good.

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Have you had success quitting smoking? Care to share how in the comments?

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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