Why give up smoking?
You enjoy smoking, it's part of your life and you've got no reason to give up. Think again - there are plenty of reasons to quit - here are just some of them.
Health and smoking
This is the biggie. It's easy to dismiss the health implications when old age is such a long way off, but there are plenty of short-term benefits you'll feel straightaway.
Just eight hours after you stop smoking the nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in the blood are halved and oxygen levels return to normal. Within 48 hours the nicotine has left the body completely. Fast-forward a year and your risk of a heart attack is halved, and in 10 years your risk of lung cancer is reduced by 30-50%.
If you're surprised by these statistics, consider this:
- Stop smoking before the onset of a serious disease and your life expectancy goes up - whatever your age
- Stop smoking before 35 and your life expectancy is pretty similar to a non-smoker
Studies show women who smoke may be more likely to have painful and irregular periods and, if you're trying for a baby, your chances of conceiving fall by up to 40%. The good news is that these statistics can be greatly improved by giving up.
You may not think fags affect your fitness, but science tells us that smoking and stamina don't go hand in hand.
You're not off the hook if you're a man, either. Keep smoking and you're more likely to experience erectile dysfunction; give up and you may improve your sexual potency.
A lesser-known, but just as serious side-effect of smoking is sight loss. Smoking causes damage to eye tissues and research shows that this can lead to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is one of the UK's main causes of sight loss, as well as cataracts.
Fags and fitness
You play footie every week, go to the gym or take a yoga class no problem, so how can ditching the fags make a difference? Studies show that non-smokers can run faster and further than smokers. When army recruits were tested for physical endurance, smokers were twice as likely to fail basic training as non-smokers and reached exhaustion sooner.
You may not think fags affect your fitness, but science tells us smoking and stamina don't go hand in hand. Stop now and you could be very surprised at how quickly your energy and physical endurance improve.
Smoking and your appearance
Look closely into the mirror - any lines? Wrinkles? Grey hair? The answer is probably no, but find some smokers in their 30s, 40s and 50s and the same assessment could tell a very different story. If that's not a big enough incentive for you, here are the facts:
- Hair: Certain chemicals in smoke cause hair cells to break down, which could lead to hair damage, such as baldness and grey hair.
- Skin: There are over 4000 chemicals in a cigarette which deprive your skin of oxygen and cause dehydration. Even in your 20s, smoking can age you by 10 years or more.
- Teeth: Keep smoking and your teeth will lose their natural whiteness. Not only does it cause yellow, stained teeth, it's also one of the major causes of bad breath. Not exactly the biggest turn-on.
- Eyes: Within days of stopping smoking your eyes will be brighter and less red.
- Money: This is probably the one you think about most often as you hand over another note for your latest packet. But have you added up exactly how much you spend every month? Use this nifty calculator to keep a running total of how much you've saved - great incentive when you give up.
- Time: We all know giving up saves money, but have you considered the spare time you'll have? It takes on average 10 minutes to smoke a cigarette, so a 10-a-day habit can clock up nearly two hours of lost time each day. That could be the difference between leaving work on time and staying late.
- Taste and smell: Within days of giving up you should find your taste buds kick back into action, meaning you can enjoy life's pleasurable tastes and smells so much more.
- Less washing: Now that smoking is banned in public places, giving up means your clothes won't stink of smoke. That means fewer loads of washing which equals more time. Result.
No matter how strong the physical addiction, giving up smoking will also clear a mental dependency. You'll no longer be sat in a non-smoking situation completely consumed by thoughts of getting outside for your next fag. Overcoming your addiction is also likely to give you a real sense of achievement - what better boost for your confidence and self-esteem?
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