Health experts have long suspected a causal relationship between smoking and cardiovascular health. In 2023, a systematic review published in Cureus confirmed this, listing the many repercussions of smoking on cardiac health, from inflammatory changes to low-density lipoprotein oxidation. This paints a vivid picture of how smoking not only poses immediate threats but can also significantly influence one’s long-term ability to engage in cardiovascular activities.
However, the review also underscored the positive impact of smoking cessation, revealing extended life expectancy and improved cardiovascular health. This revelation carries significant implications for individuals who want to engage in effective cardio exercises.
Smoking and cardiovascular system impact
Smoking’s detrimental health impacts extend beyond its widely acknowledged role as a risk factor for heart disease. The review in Cureus delves into the hazards present in cigarette smoke, which include nicotine and carbon monoxide. This duo contributes to oxidative stress, imperils arterial linings, and expedites the accumulation of fatty plaques. Moreover, carbon monoxide diminishes the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity, thereby augmenting the stress on the heart.
These combined effects result in diminished cardiovascular output and a notable reduction in stamina. Smokers often find themselves struggling to keep up with physical activities that non-smokers may find routine, such as climbing stairs or even walking briskly. This reflects the results of a 2021 study in KJSM, wherein cigarette smoking led to sustained elevations in heart rate, rate pressure product, and both central and peripheral blood pressures during exercise recovery among male smokers. Considering exercise is recommended for individuals with cardiovascular risk factors, understanding how smoking influences acute exercise recovery becomes crucial.
That’s because cardio activities like running and jogging offer incredible benefits. Besides muscle development and stress reduction, there’s the added allure of cardiovascular improvement. However, smokers may find themselves trapped in a cyclical pattern. The very act of smoking, with its pernicious effects on the cardiovascular system, disrupts these benefits. Smokers, therefore, may struggle to break free and unlock the full potential of cardio activities — unless they seek support to quit smoking and reignite their cardio progress.
Quitting and cardiovascular recovery
For smokers already grappling with cardiovascular damage, the journey to recovery requires a multifaceted approach. Here, a crucial aspect is the shift to smokeless alternatives, which provide a pathway to distance oneself from the damaging effects of tobacco smoke. Among the various options, this catalog of VELO pouches emerges as a notable solution. These pouches come in standard 4mg and 7mg pouches to cater to average and heavy smokers but also provide an ultra-light 2mg variant to ensure a gradual decrease in nicotine consumption. This allows the body to acclimate itself to recover better, as confirmed in a 2023 study wherein exclusive users of VELO pouches had significantly more favorable biomarkers than smokers. This included lower levels of nicotine-derived nitrosamine ketone and carboxyhemoglobin, related to the development of lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases, respectively.
While smokeless alternatives are often available in convenience stores, ordering online can guarantee a supply of the correct dosage. In stark contrast, alternative smoking cessation methods like medication typically require a prescription, necessitating a visit to the doctor. However, this approach may suit other smokers, especially those seeking to eliminate the addictive qualities associated with smoking entirely rather than merely managing withdrawal symptoms. Research shows that varenicline assists in inducing smoking cessation. It also positively affects respiratory function and metabolic parameters in the short term, including an increased forced expiratory volume and flow.
Regardless of your choice of smoking alternative or cessation aid, combining this with therapy or counseling can enhance outcomes. Additionally, careful reintegration of cardio exercises is recommended. A proper fitness routine ensures that individuals ease into cardio without risking injury. This measured approach aligns with the gradual recovery philosophy, allowing the body to adapt to increased physical activity.
It’s never too late to quit, and the benefits reach every step of the journey towards improved cardiovascular health. For more on fitness, check out our other write-ups on our online health portal, RubMD.