The evidence in favour of quitting smoking is now stronger than it ever has been. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find someone who thinks that quitting smoking is a bad idea. But we can all agree that it’s a difficult step to take.
Have a read of our list of things you might discover when you finally kick the habit and see if it can motivate you to take that first step. After all, the dangers of smoking are well documented but what happens to your body when you stop smoking isn’t always as obvious.
1. You’ll Feel The Effects Sooner Than You Think
Surprisingly, the benefits of stopping smoking can be felt as soon as 20 minutes after your last cigarette. In fact, a lot can change in your body in just 72 hours after making the decision to quit. The increased heart rate which comes as a result of the nicotine high will return to normal after 20 minutes, and within a couple of days the nicotine has completely left your body. This can be uncomfortable at the time as the effect of withdrawal from nicotine is not dissimilar to the side effects of withdrawal from other drugs. Yet the benefits that are experienced soon after are quite pronounced.
The levels of carbon monoxide in the blood reduces by more than half within eight hours and return to zero within two days. This is also when the first wave of withdrawal symptoms begin to hit – but take comfort in the knowledge that the sensations of nausea and a headache mean that your body is getting rid of all the smoke-related toxins.
2. Food Will Taste Better
One side effect of smoking cigarettes is that it can wear down the nerve endings in your nose and mouth, greatly reducing your ability to smell and taste things. What happens to the body when you stop smoking is that the damanged nerve endings have the chance to grow back – meaning you’ll be able to appreciate your food and drink again as soon as two days after your last cigarette.
The power of taste and sense of smell is something that is often hard to appreciate once it has been deadened by smoking, but former smokers are often amazed at how quitting can give them a new appreciation for the tastes and smells in the world – from a fine meal to a delicate flower.
3. You’ll Breathe Easier
We all know that smoking hits the lungs hard. Those gruesome photos of blackened smokers’ lungs on cigarette packets leave little to the imagination. But you will be pleased to know that quitting smoking can reverse this process and, in the majority of instances, the damage is not permanent.
Say goodbye to shortness of breath
Within a couple of weeks, as your blood circulation and heart function improves, you’ll be able to exercise again. Not only does this have myriad benefits for your entire body, it keeps the lungs working to deliver oxygen around the body. Shortness of breath is one of the most common consequences of heavy smoking but within the first 6–9 months of quitting smoking your lung capacity can increase by up to 30%[i]. This will both improve your athletic performance (as increased oxygen levels in the blood improve aerobic capacity) and make a huge difference to how you feel generally. Breathing will become much easier as your overall lung function increases by 10% and issues such as sleep apnoea may also subside.
Consequently the risk of asthma attacks and other respiratory problems reduces as lung function returns and the cardiovascular system becomes more efficient once more.
4.You’ll Have More Spare Cash – the cost of smoking
The health benefits of quitting smoking are, as we have already discussed, impressive. But don’t underestimate the benefits of finding that you are no longer burning a hole in your pocket by purchasing scores of cigarettes each month.
Quit smoking, save money
The NHS estimates that, if the average smoker works their way through 13 cigarettes a day, quitting smoking can leave them £141 better off each month. That’s means that the cost of smoking adds up to £1,696 a year![ii] And given the steep rise in the cost of cigarettes over the past three years, this figure is only likely to increase. Money has been tight for many of us in recent years, so stopping smoking is a brilliantly simple way to free up a sizeable sum of money.
5.You’ll Feel As If You Never Smoked At All
You may be shocked to discover that a lot of the damage done by smoking is almost entirely reversible. It takes a long time after quitting, but many of the increased health risks associated with smoking can return to the same levels as in someone who has never smoked in their life. Ten years after you quit smoking, for example, your risk of dying of lung cancer is half that of a regular smoker. Fifteen years after you quit, your risk of getting heart disease is the same as someone who has never smoked at all.
The same can be said for other cardiovascular issues such as arrhythmia. Studies have also suggested that the age at which you quit smoking can play a big part in cutting disease risk, with those who quit smoking before they were 30 having the same mortality risks down the line as someone who had never smoked a single cigarette.
Are there only 5 benefits to quitting smoking?
Of course not! The health benefits of stopping smoking are numerous and research is being carried out all the time to examine how stress levels, fertility, skin, teeth, sex life and weight can all see improvements once an individual makes the commitment to quit smoking[iii].
Alongside this, we should also identify how one may stop harming others by kicking the habit. Second-hand smoke is a subtle yet very real problem in households and one that has contributed to many illnesses and diseases in the UK.
Whilst quitting smoking is no doubt a difficult task, there are a number of aids available to help you quit. From nicotine replacement therapies to hypnotherapy to vaping, going cold turkey to using medications such as Champix, there has never been such an array of options for people keen to kick the habit. If you want to make the change this year – why not get in touch with our experienced quit smoking experts through the Live Chat function on your screen today.