Huff more, puff less

Anya Marchenko

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Don’t smoke. But if you do, make sure to get plenty of exercise.

In a study by the West Virginia University School of Medicine, teen boys that exercised while trying to quit smoking were more successful than boys who didn’t exercise.

Exercising boys were 48% more likely to quit smoking over a period of six months, said Kimberly Horn, who was one of the conductors of the study.

The study followed a group of 233 teen smokers ages 14 to 19 from various West Virginia high schools. The participants were split into three groups – one which attended a one-time anti-smoking group; one which attended a smoking intervention group for 10 weeks; and one which attended the same smoking intervention group for 10 weeks but also exercised for brief, regular periods.

The girls in the study did not show the same results. The girls who were exercising showed no more improvement than girls who just took the 10-week course.

The teens studied were all severe smokers.

The students normally smoked about half a pack of cigarettes a day, and most had started smoking at age 11.

Scientists have come up with an explanation for the higher quitting rate among exercising boys.

Exercising helps the smoker control some of the cravings and withdrawal symptoms, which usually lead to relapse and make quitting more difficult under non-exercise conditions.

West Virginia has one of the worst teen smoking rates in the country, with a third of all high school students being smokers. West Virginia also has one of the lowest exercise rates among teens.