Limited evidence for exercise in smoking cessation

Clinical question: 
How effective are exercise-based interventions for smoking cessation?
Bottom line: 
Three studies showed significantly higher abstinence rates in a physically active group versus a control group at the end of treatment. One of these studies also showed a significant benefit for exercise versus control on abstinence at the 3-month follow-up and a benefit for exercise of borderline significance (p=0.05) at the 12-month follow-up. One study showed significantly higher abstinence rates for the exercise group versus a control group at the 3-month follow-up but not at the end of treatment or 12-month follow-up. The other studies showed no significant effect for exercise on abstinence.
Only one of the 15 trials offered evidence for exercise aiding smoking cessation at a 12-month follow-up. All the other trials were too small (7 had fewer than 25 people in each treatment arm) to reliably exclude an effect of intervention, or included an exercise intervention which was insufficiently intense to achieve the desired level of exercise. The studies varied in the timing and intensity of the smoking cessation and exercise programmes.
Taking regular exercise may help people give up smoking by moderating nicotine withdrawal and cravings, and by helping to manage weight gain.
Review CD#: 
March, 2012
Authored by: 
Brian R McAvoy