Tobacco and sports? Smoking can reduce stamina and skills
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There are a number of smokers who enjoy playing sports.  Tobacco places a burden on the lungs and bronchi, which is one of the factors that diminishes exercise capacity and stamina.  Oxygen is used to produce energy in exercise, but harmful substances contained in tobacco destroy lung cells and can cause inflammation in the airway.

This time we will look at the influence of tobacco on exercise performance and how tobacco is considered around the sports scene.


How Does Smoking Affect Sport Performance

exercise and smokers

Nicotine and tar contained in tobacco, together with carbon monoxide and other toxic compounds found in tobacco smoke, cause destruction of the alveoli (the tiny air sacs in our lungs that allow oxygen to enter our blood) as well as contraction of capillaries. As a result, ample oxygen can not be taken in, causing a decrease in exercise performance.  In addition, smoking narrows your blood vessels, making pumping blood through your body more difficult and further limiting oxygen intake.

After peaking in our 20s, the ability of our lungs to take in oxygen and exhale air begins to declining little by little as the years go forward. It has been confirmed medically that smoking tobacco promotes the deterioration of pulmonary function, and cases where oxygen inhalation is necessary may be necessary as symptoms such as cough and sputum progress.

A key influence of smoking on sports is the decrease in muscular strength and instantaneous power. Carbon dioxide and fat burning can occur when we move our bodies, and this reaction plays an important role to help muscle movement. However, if the pulmonary function is declining due to smoking, a sufficient amount of oxygen is not supplied to the body, and exercise capacity such as muscular strength and instantaneous power declines.

Also, tobacco interferes with muscle pain and fatigue recovery, and it is said that non-smokers are more active in training and sports than smokers.


But if I’m a healthy athlete, can I keep smoking?

can jogging help me stop smoking

Generally speaking, it is said that it is better not to smoke cigarettes while doing sports because substances contained in tobacco smoke may lower lung function, which in turn reduces athletic performance.  Depending on how competitive an athlete is, there is a strong likelihood that they will encounter stressful situations, like competitions and events.  Certain athletes have mentioned that the act of smoking can serve to relax their nerves and calm them down ahead of an event.  Others have compared nicotine rush to having a coffee before a meet.  In fact, many professional athletes have cited that smoking helps them raise their concentration before the game and to relax after the game.  Although in the back of their mind they know that tobacco is harmful, they focus on one perceived benefit (e.g. stress reduction) instead of the broader picture – that their performance will be negatively affected over time.


Even if you’re not a pro-athlete, it’s best to refrain from smoking

Although smoking may be considered by some to be a simple way to relax in stressful times, dependency rates on smoking are quite high and what might start as a casual habit can quickly turn into addiction.  Since many of the adverse effects of tobacco (such as respiratory impact and damage to the heart and other organs) take time to manifest, younger smokers in particular do not necessarily feel significantly impacted until their 30s and 40s.

The adverse effects of tobacco becomes particularly prominent in the 50s to 60s, and it is confirmed by health groups that the incidence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) increases in this period as well.

Although cigarettes may on the surface appear to boost exercise ability and help relax tension, in view of the long term health consequences, it is ideal to refrain from smoking earlier on.


Final word

By its nature, tobacco does not have a positive effect on exercise capacity.  Yet some people feel the effect of calming down or being more mentally stable after sucking on cigarettes.  For that reason, if you find yourself craving a smoke before a meet just to relax, we recommend using a cigarette substitute instead.  These kinds of alternatives may include nicotine gums and cessation pipes in addition to foods, sweets and drinks.  When you think, “I want to smoke”, aim at smoking cessation while making good use of a substitute.


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