When it comes to cessation programs, smokers might want to run for their lives.
By that, we mean getting into a running lifestyle that makes you quit, no questions asked.
We mention this because Thursday is Great American Smokeout Day across the U.S. Approximately 40 million American adults still smoke, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the country.
The event challenges people to quit on that day, or use the day to make a plan to quit.
Nicotine is a powerful drug, as the still formidable amount of Americans who still smoke will attest.
And like with any addiction, there has to be a powerful intervention.
If someone is desperate to stop smoking, one recommended plan of attack is to find something else to obsess over.
Preferably of the healthy variety.
In Canada, there’s a program called “Run to Quit’’ which helps those with a tobacco habit get into a healthier frame of mind.
The Run to Quit program was instituted in a chain of running stores called “The Running Room.’’
Those who enroll are taught/coached how to run a 5K.
Often it’s not easy and it takes diligence. There can’t be any episodes of “falling off the wagon’’ or moments of weakness.
The Run to Quit program is based on that old walk-then-jog method which we’ve talked about before.
Participants follow a plan something like this: Five-minute walk, five-minute jog, five-minute walk, five-minute jog – and so on, for up to 30 minutes.
Then, each few days, shorten the walk time and increase the jog time until the participant can do up to 30 minutes of jogging without stopping.
From there, it’s time to set a quit date for smoking and it’s a much easier transition.
According to author Maggie Puniewska in an article appearing on the TONIC (health) website in 2016, when researchers were asked to evaluate Run to Quit, they found it was highly successful at getting people to drop smoking.
Their study, published recently, found that at the 10-week evaluation, 51 percent of participants hadn’t smoked in seven days and during the six-month follow-up, nearly 20 percent of people reported that they were still cigarette-free.
The latter statistic may not seem like a lot—it’s barely a quarter—but in the world of quitting smoking, it’s a big number.
“When people try to quit on their own, the success rate is about seven percent, so this program does work for many people,” said Carly Priebe, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia’s school of kinesiology. “And if they don’t quit, they’re at least cutting back. We found that 91 percent of people who stuck with the program reduced their smoking.”
Runners know all about endorphins. Those are the little twinkly things coming down from your brain, both during and/or after a run. They call it “Runner’s High.’’
“Exercise does act a little bit like a stimulant,” Priebe said. “Those feel-good endorphins that you release while working out can often replace that similar ‘feel-good’ sensation you were looking for in a cigarette.”
Take it from someone who lit up in high school but overcame the problem after a year in college: Quitting is one of the best things you can do in your life.
Dashin’ Thru The Lights 2-Miler, 7 p.m., Yardley. On-site registration only. Contact www.runsignup.com
Girls on the Run 5K, 10 a.m., New Hope-Solebury High School, New Hope. Contact www.gotrhunterdon.org
Thursday, Nov. 22
29th annual BCRR Thanksgiving Day 5-Miler, 9 a.m., Summit Square Shopping Center, Langhorne. Contact www.runsignup.com