Running and Smoking

 It is sometimes worth reminding ourselves of certain things we take for granted: smoking does not get on well with regular satisfying running exercise. This is because smoking goes against the health benefits of running.

The Consequences of Smoking for a Runner

The lungs, heart as well as the muscles of people who smoke and run at the same time suffer serious consequences! Since 2002, The French commission for health education ("CFES") has been alerting the general public to the following issues:

  • The carbon monoxide, inhaled when smoking, causes hypoxia, i.e. a lack of oxygen.
  • Nicotine causes an increase in the heart rate and blood pressure (even at rest) – and as a consequence, the heart consumes more oxygen.
  • This gives rise to an increased risk of heart attacks for sportsmen or women who smoke above the age of 40 and who engage in intense exercise. 

Regarding muscles, the CFES states: "The muscles, like the lungs and heart, need oxygen-rich blood in order to function efficiently. However, smoking causes peripheral vasoconstriction, which leads to less oxygen reaching the muscles. " What's more, nicotine increases the production of lactic acid.

The Drop in VO2MAX is Directly linked tothe Consumption of Cigarettes

A study conducted about 15 years ago by an American University showed that smokers expended 6% more energy on average during light exercise. All considering, this statistic could have been predicted when one considers the damage smoking can do to one's VO2max, i.e. the maximum quantity of oxygen used by the body per unit of time – expressed in litres/minute. It was observed that the VO2max is directly affected by smoking. In practical terms, the more you smoke the more your cardiovascular capacity is reduced.

This Runs Directly Against the Very Aim of Running

In addition to the pleasure of practising their sport on a daily basis, runners seek to significantly improve their health reserves. Given that the aim is to live longer and, what's more, live longer in good health. The statistics regarding healthy life years (HLY), which have taken on a greater importance than the life expectancy statistics, show that chronic illness becomes increasingly prevalent after the age of 60. Smoking remains one of the key causes of cancer and damage to cardiovascular capacity. Running without smoking is therefore one of the most effective solutions for ageing… in good health!

Quote: Pascal, an Ex-heavy Smoker with 50 Marathons to his name

"I smoked between 20 and 30 cigarettes a day for about 15 years," accepts Pascal. At the time, I ran a little. With difficulty.I used to cough a lot after the exercise. I stopped smoking without really planning it and, straight away, I began to run a lot because I wanted to avoid gaining weight. The following year, I ran my first marathon. And since then, I've never looked back.I have covered the 26 miles 385 yards in under three hours.Now the very memory of smoking seems unreal to me as if it were from another lifetime."


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