A group of individuals from Prince Albert are making great strides in their lung health one step at a time. They came together with two common goals. They all wanted to quit smoking and become more physically active.
Together under the leadership of Donna Turner and Valerie Borsos, two Respiratory Therapists and Certified Respiratory Educators from The Prince Albert Co-operative Health Centre, they became a team that worked towards becoming tobacco-free and trained to walk or run a five km distance. “We are always trying to think about new methods to help people quit smoking. We wanted to find a way to build confidence and give people yet another reason to quit smoking,” says Turner. The Respiratory Therapist had first heard about exercise programs designed to help people quit in a running magazine and was inspired to start one in Prince Albert, SK. The program was modelled after The Lung Association’s Nova Scotia’s Learn to Run program for people who smoke. The program focuses on improving physical fitness while educating participants about the benefits of exercise, proper nutrition, quitting tobacco and other useful topics.
The rationale behind this type of program is based on studies that have found that exercise has been shown to decrease nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms in addition to helping prevent weight gain.1,3,4 Many people who smoke will say they smoke when they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed and exercise also helps people cope with stress and improves their self-esteem.
After eight weeks of training, on Monday June 23rd the group finished their program with an organized 5km fun run. The Lung Association of Saskatchewan was with them for their final run to help congratulate them on their success and to talk with the group about lung health including tips about quitting smoking. Many of the participants have quit smoking and others are on their way to quitting. When the participants were asked if they will keep exercising, they all still plan to run together over the summer and will enroll again in the fall.
If you live in Prince Albert and would like to join the Learn to Run program for people who smoke in the fall contact The Co-operative Health Centre at (306) 763-6464. For support in starting your own program in Saskatchewan or if you would like to talk to someone about quitting please contact The Lung Association of Saskatchewan at 1-888-566-LUNG.
1 Taylor H.T. The acute effects of exercise on cigarette cravings, withdrawal symptoms, affect and smoking behaviour: a systemic review. Addiction 2007. 102; 534-543.
2 Ashlman M.W. Stop Smoking Naturally. New Canaan, CT Keats Publishers; 2000 & Marcus B.H. How to quit smoking without gaining weight. New York 2004).
3 Piasecki T.M. Smoking withdrawal dynamics in unaided quitters. J Abnorm Psychol 2000. 109: 74-86.
4 Shiffman S. First relapses to smoking: within-subjects analysis of real time reports. J Consult Clin Psychology 1996. 64; 366-79.
5. Janse, K., Rensburg V.,Taylor A., Hodgson T., Banattayallah A. Acute exercise modulates cigarette cravincs and brain activation in response to smoking-related images: an fMRI study (Psychopharmacology 2009 Volume 203, Number 3) 594.