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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The effects of repeated aerobic and non-aerobic exercise on cigarette smoking Reesor, Kenneth Alan


While there is strong evidence of an inverse relationship between levels of physical activity and cigarette consumption, there are few experimental investigations of the effect of exercise on cigarette smoking. Moreover, the available research is limited by research design flaws such as non-random assignment, lack of appropriate controls, inadequate specification of exercise, and reliance on self-report measures. In this investigation, twenty-four female and twelve male cigarette smokers, who were not attempting to quit, were randomly assigned to one of three groups: 1) an aerobic exercise condition consisting of continuous, high-intensity cycling on stationary bikes; 2) a non-aerobic exercise condition consisting of discontinuous, minimal-intensity muscle stretching and tensing exercises; or 3) a no-exercise control condition. Subjects monitored the time and rated their 'enjoyment' of each cigarette smoked on weekdays during 4 consecutive weeks and participated in eight standardized exercise or control sessions scheduled during the second and third weeks. Pre- and post-session measures of state anxiety and blood pressure were taken at the first and last exercise or corresponding control session. Surreptitious observations of smoking topography were taken immediately afterward. Contrary to predictions, only the non-aerobic exercise produced a significant reduction in both the rate and number of puffs taken and a significant increase in the latency to smoke for the first two cigarettes following exercise. No effect was found on cigarette consumption during the observation period or on self-reported daily cigarette consumption. Also contrary to" expectations, self-reported anxiety prior to exercise increased over repeated sessions in the aerobic exercise condition, but decreased over sessions in the non-aerobic condition. At the end of the study, subjects in the aerobic condition rated themselves as significantly more likely to quit smoking than subjects in either of the other conditions. There were, however, no significant differences in cigarette consumption or intention to quit at a 4-month follow-up. These results do not support the hypothesis that increasing aerobic exercise reduces cigarette smoking. They do indicate, however, that minimal-intensity exercise can modify smoking topography in a manner previously shown to reduce health risk. The results also suggest that previous demonstrations of anxiolytic effects of aerobic exercise may have been confounded by increased anxiety occurring in anticipation of aerobic exercise.

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