The Role of Exercise and Physical Activity in Supporting Cold Turkey Quitting
Change is the only constant, but changing is not that easy. Especially if that change revolves around a long-standing habit. It does not matter if that habit is bad for us, still letting go of a routine habit is difficult. Even when you want to change it up, it is really difficult to convince yourself that it is time to let go!
One such habit is smoking or tobacco addiction! People who smoke or consume tobacco understand that it is really difficult to let go of the habit. It gets imbibed into your daily routine, becoming a behavioral and psychological addiction. And when you decide you quit, it becomes a real challenge.
There are many approaches that you can take - you can let go of the habit suddenly or follow a gradual reduction plan. It does not matter which approach you take but every approach has its own pros and cons. Additionally, it also varies from person to person on the basis of their preference.
Today we will focus on the cold turkey approach of quitting and help you understand why it works and what all you can do to be successful. We will also focus on the role of exercise and physical activity in cold turkey quitting. But before we get into the specific, let’s take a step back and try to understand what makes quitting tobacco so difficult?
Tobacco addiction is a complex condition which can happen due to many reasons like environmental influences, psychological triggers or genetic predispositions. However, majorly it happens due to the presence of nicotine in tobacco. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance which leads to physical dependence. When consumed in any form, it tricks the brain to release neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine that make you feel temporarily ‘relaxed’. The pleasing effects of tobacco are short-lived, this makes you want to consume more and more tobacco products. Its regular consumption alters the brain chemistry, making it crave for the ‘high’. The more you smoke or the more packets you chew of ‘gutka’, you will still want to have more.
And when your body does not get nicotine, it experiences nicotine withdrawal symptoms like irritability, anxiety, difficulty in concentration, sleeplessness and so on. These symptoms make it really difficult to quit tobacco.
What is Cold Turkey Approach of Quitting?
This falls under the abrupt category of ways of quitting and means that you stop consuming tobacco (stop smoking or having gutka) suddenly without any treatment or replacement medications like nicotine patches or nicotine gums. It means deciding firmly to stop completely, saying "No more" instead of saying "Just a bit more." You battle with the resulting withdrawal symptoms all by yourself.
Deciding to make a sudden change like stopping something right away, is a bit scary but can also turn out to be successful and rewarding. Herein, the focus is on exercising willpower alone to quit smoking.
This approach doesn’t put your life in danger. But it certainly makes the transition unpleasant and painful. The resultant withdrawal symptoms affect your emotional and physical well-being but it has proven to work for a lot of people.
According to a 2021 survey, 21,542 people in England found that people who quit smoking abruptly were more likely to remain abstinent than those who quit gradually.
How is Quitting Cold Turkey Different from Gradual Quitting?
As the name suggests, quitting gradually involves reducing the amount of cigarettes or gutka you have per day. People tend to take help from healthcare providers to plan their quitting journey. They might also get recommended to get NRT products like Nicotine Gum Online in India or nicotine patches, tablets, or inhalers. The aim is to taper off the dependence on nicotine and eventually stop it.
How Does Exercise Help in Supporting Cold Turkey?
Exercising regularly or doing some sort of physical activity has many benefits that are not just limited to the physical aspect. It is also good for mental well-being and boosting immunity. Beyond being a means to enhance all these aspects, regular physical activity stands out as a potent tool to aid individuals in their quest to break free from nicotine addiction.
Stress buster - Stress is one the most common triggers for smoking. When you quit smoking, it is not like your life is going to become stress-free suddenly. You will need to find ways to manage that stress in a healthy manner. And physical activity holds the potential to become a powerful ally in battling stress.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, neurotransmitters which are known to alleviate anxiety and tension. This plays a pivotal role in managing stress during this transformative phase.
Managing cravings - People tend to switch to food for satisfying their urges. They substitute tobacco and start seeking gratification through food. This is the reason why you would have noticed a lot of people complain about weight gain during their quitting phase
Regular exercise helps in curbing cravings by redirecting the focus and diminishing the strength and frequency of urges. It acts as a great distraction that aids in the resistance against nicotine cravings.
Enhancing mood - Exercising has a positive effect on our mood and amplifies our energy levels. When you exercise, your boosted mood helps in countering the feelings of irritability or mood swings that are quite common with nicotine withdrawal.
What else can help in quitting cold turkey?
Apart from exercising, there are many additional things or strategies that you can adopt to bolster the chances of succeeding in the cold turkey approach to quit smoking. As you are not taking help of any medicated products like Ryze nicotine gums implementing a variety of supportive techniques can help in navigating the challenges that come with abrupt quitting. Here a few such ideas/tips that you can take advantage of:
Seek support - Quitting cold turkey requires a lot of willpower. And if you have the strength of your friends or family to support you through this difficult journey, it will definitely help. They will encourage you and keep your spirits high during the challenging times. You can even consider joining a support group. This way you will have people who are going through the same thing to share your experiences with.
Indulge in mindful activities - while exercising is a great stress buster and a mood enhances, you can also consider adopting relaxation techniques in your routine to ensure a healthy mental frame of mind. These activities can be deep breathing exercises, yoga or meditation.
Focus on what you eat and drink - It is important to be mindful of what you are eating during this phase. Go for healthy snacks like fruits, nuts or crunchy vegetables to keep your hand and mouth busy. Do not forget to drink plenty of water as it will help in flushing out the toxins and support the natural detoxification process.
At the end, remember that there is no one right way to quit for everyone. While going cold turkey might work for some, it might not for others. Managing withdrawal symptoms during cold turkey will take a lot of strength, but with the right motivation and some preparation, you can do it.