There is a new quitting-smoking study coming out in October, and this one focuses on teenagers at the beginning of their illustrious smoking careers. The study shows that a smoking cessation program in combination with exercise is the most successful way to get teenagers to stop smoking entirely, compared with a “brief intervention” (a 15-minute stop-smoking lecture that could only have elicited eye-rolls) and an old-fashioned smoking cessation program. The researchers think they’ve pinpointed the reason:
“Exercise and in particular, cardiovascular exercise, is an excellent way to help kids move toward being tobacco-free. It can change their routine. Exercise can build feelings of self-efficacy, and make teens feel like they can change their behavior. It also causes the release of lactic acid from the muscles and endorphins, which can replace some of those internal reinforcers that come from smoking.”
The endorphins thing! No, it’s not endorphins, and it’s not lactic acid. It’s because if you’re smoking a pack a day like some of these kids apparently were, exercise is more difficult than it would be for non-smokers. Like, on your lungs. And also, let’s say you’re in this program where they’re making you exercise instead of hanging out under the bleachers with your friends after school, or whatever it is you do as a sulky teen. Eventually, wheezing through all the runs and soccer games will no longer be worth it so you’ll start to smoke less and less. You’re hardly ever under the bleachers anymore. Your friends start rehearsing their new punk band without you and don’t return your sexts since you’re always at that weird after-school thing your parents are making you do. Somewhere along the way, you find that you haven’t smoked any cigarettes in weeks and the science camp Mom suggested doesn’t sound so bad. So, no, it’s not endorphins.
And they’ll all start smoking again when they get to college anyway.
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