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Quitting smoking: methods that work

As is well known, smoking is a major cause of health problems globally and, quitting smoking does not. In particular, the negative effects of smoking on sports performance are considerable. In fact, smoking affects the lung capacity, physical endurance, concentration, and muscle strength of individuals who use it. In addition, smoking can cause arterial walls to thicken, reducing the flow of blood and oxygen to muscles. All of these negative effects can have a significant impact on sports performance, making training more difficult and limiting achievable results.

In fact, smoking athletes have longer recovery times after exercises, or they may not be able to sustain long training sessions like non-smoking athletes. Find out in this article some good ways to quit smoking and begin your journey to a tobacco-free life

What are the effects of nicotine on the body?

It is really important to understand how nicotine acts in our bodies so that we understand what happens the moment you stop smoking. Awareness of what happens when we take this substance will allow you to exercise control over your actions at the time when you are in danger of giving in to temptation.

Nicotine, when taken in small doses, has the ability to stimulate the release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters such as serotonin, vasopressin, and adrenaline, generating a feeling of euphoria in the user.

Although the amount of nicotine inhaled through tobacco smoke is relatively small (since much of the substance is destroyed by heat), this is sufficient to be addictive. In addition, the actual absorption of nicotine by the body depends on various factors, such as the type of tobacco, the way it is inhaled, and the presence of a filter.

Once nicotine enters the bloodstream, it spreads rapidly through the bloodstream and reaches the nervous system due to its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. In the brain, it acts on acetylcholine neuroreceptors, increasing their activity at low concentrations. In addition, cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine, can remain in the blood for about 48 hours and can be used as an indicator of individual exposure to smoking.


At high concentrations, nicotine blocks nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, causing paralysis of skeletal muscles, including respiratory muscles. This is the reason for its toxicity and its use as an insecticide.

In addition, nicotine, like other agonists, acts on nicotinic heteroreceptors present on the pre-synaptic fibers of dopaminergic neurons, increasing dopamine release. This generates a feeling of pleasure similar, to some extent, to that caused by cocaine, but only loosely related to that of heroin. Physical dependence on nicotine is therefore also related to the biochemical need to maintain high levels of dopamine.

In addition, many alkaloids in tobacco not only stimulate dopaminergic neurons to release dopamine, but also limit its enzymatic degradation. This fact contributes to making nicotine addiction even more difficult to eliminate, according to many experts.

In addition, nicotine has a curious gastric effect in synergy with other components of tobacco smoke. A few minutes after taking tobacco smoke, there is a 15 percent increase in HCl (hydrochloric acid) secretion by the gastric mucosa, as well as a general increase in gastrointestinal peristalsis. This may explain why the desire to smoke increases after meals, especially large meals.

What is the best way to quit smoking?

Smoking is one of the most harmful public health habits, causing lung disease, cancer, heart disease and many other serious illnesses. Many smokers try to quit the habit, but often struggle to do so. So what is the best way to quit smoking?

It sounds absurd and simplistic to say but the only real method to quit smoking is to never ever smoke a cigarette again.

Of course easy to say but obviously difficult to achieve. You should know that quitting smoking is mainly a matter of willpower.

Of course you will not necessarily have to quit overnight because that would probably be counterproductive. You will have to give yourself realistic goals and stick to them.


Proceed in steps and set realistic goals for quitting smoking

An effective way to deal with this challenge is to proceed by steps and set realistic goals. Rather than trying to quit immediately without any preparation, it is helpful to set achievable steps along the way. For example, you can start by gradually reducing the number of cigarettes you smoke per day or replacing them with less harmful alternatives. It is important to set realistic and measurable goals, such as reducing cigarette consumption by 50 percent within a set period of time. This step-by-step approach allows you to adapt to the change and acquire new habits without feeling overwhelmed.

Develop a plan and stick to it to quit smoking

The crucial first step in quitting smoking is to create a well-defined plan. Start by choosing a concrete date when you will be ready to quit smoking permanently. This will help you mentally prepare yourself and focus on the goal. At the same time, it is essential to remove from your sight anything that might be associated with smoking, such as ashtrays, lighters, and cigarette packs. Eliminating these objects will help you avoid temptation and create a space free of negative stimuli. Also, consider seeking support from friends, family, or specialized support groups so that you have a solid support system during the process of quitting smoking. Remember that following your plan and maintaining determination are critical to success in achieving a smoke-free future.


Take a step-by-step approach to reducing cigarette consumption

An effective approach to quitting smoking is to gradually reduce the number of cigarettes you consume each day or each week, moving you closer and closer to your goal of quitting completely. This method relies on getting you used to lower and lower levels of nicotine, allowing your body to gradually adapt to the reduction. You can combine this strategy with the previously mentioned plan by setting a definite quit date and gradually decreasing the number of daily cigarettes.

For example, you can start by reducing the number of cigarettes by a couple per day or by setting a maximum number of cigarettes to smoke at certain times of the day. As you get used to this new routine, you can continue to gradually reduce the number of cigarettes until you reach the goal of quitting completely.

This gradual approach allows you to prepare your body and mind for the idea of living without cigarettes, reducing the anxiety and discomfort associated with sudden withdrawal. Remember that every step toward reducing cigarette use is significant progress toward a smoke-free life.

Nicotine gum: no thanks

A common option for quitting smoking is the use of tobacco substitutes such as nicotine gum, patches or sprays. These products are designed to help reduce withdrawal symptoms related to the lack of nicotine in the body. Although these methods may work for some people, the urge to smoke is primarily a psychological problem. The desire to smoke is often related to daily routines, social habits, or stressful situations. If you want to quit smoking, you must first want to.

Tobacco substitutes can provide temporary help to manage physical abstinence, but addressing the psychological aspect is equally important. Focus on strategies that will help you change habits, such as identifying situations when you most want to smoke and finding healthy alternatives to manage stress.

Remember, quitting smoking requires sincere willingness and commitment. First, you must truly desire to quit and have a positive mindset toward change.


Relaxation techniques

In addition to the strategies mentioned above, relaxation techniques can offer valuable support during the process of quitting smoking. Practices such as yoga and meditation can help relieve stress and tension, two factors that often accompany nicotine withdrawal. These techniques allow you to center your mind, reduce anxiety and foster a state of inner calm.

Make time for yourself and adopt these relaxation practices into your daily schedule. You may also consider attending classes or groups that focus on stress management techniques. This will provide you with a supportive community and an opportunity to share experiences with people facing the same challenge.

Remember that quitting smoking is a process that involves both physical and mental aspects. By using relaxation techniques and adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can reduce stress, improve your overall well-being, and increase your chances of success in achieving a smoke-free life.


Support from those close to you

It is crucial to seek the support of family, friends, and professionals in your efforts to get rid of the smoking habit. It is important to openly communicate your desire to quit smoking to those close to you, thus creating an environment conducive to your goal.

This means that smoking friends should avoid smoking when they are with you, showing an understanding and agreeing to change their habits temporarily to best support you.

In addition, it is essential that you request others not to offer you cigarettes or give them to you when you ask for them. This will help maintain your resolve and avoid tempting situations.

A valuable support is to have people around you to distract you during times of abstinence and help you through them. These are those who can offer you companionship, encouragement and a shoulder to lean on when you need it.

Quitting smoking requires personal commitment, patience and determination, but it is important to recognize that you do not have to face this challenge alone.


Learn more about this topic by checking out the latest scientific research on PubMed

This article was originally written in Italian and translated English via deepl.com. If you notice a major error in the translation you can write to [email protected] to report it. Your contribution will be greatly appreciated

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