Although smoking is terrible for your health, it does burn calories by slightly boosting your metabolism. Alongside this metabolism boost, however, comes an elevation in heart rate that can increase your risk of heart problems, so kicking the habit is worth the 5 or 10 pounds you might gain. You don't have to trade a healthier lifestyle for a slightly larger body, though, and instituting healthy lifestyle habits can help you burn fat when you quit smoking.
Replace smoking with a healthy habit that doesn't involve excessive snacking. Some people try to fill the void left by smoking by snacking, and smoking is an appetite suppressant, so keeping your caloric intake under control can help you avoid gaining weight. Cutting out unhealthy foods such as sodas and calorie-filled snacks can help you eliminate calories and burn fat. Rather than picking up a doughnut or bag of chips, try chewing sugar-free gum or going for a walk.
Get plenty of cardiovascular exercise. Regular cardio such as running or jumping rope is highly effective at burning calories. It can also distract you from the desire to smoke. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 75 minutes of intense cardio such as running per week. If you prefer to stick to a less-intense routine, you'll need 150 minutes of moderate cardio such as brisk walking per week. If you're trying to lose weight rather than just prevent weight gain, however, you might need as much as 300 minutes of cardio per week.
Increase your overall activity level. Smoking can be correlated with a sedentary lifestyle. A smoker might, for example, enjoy a cigarette while watching TV or sitting on the couch. Replace the time you spend smoking with new activities. Try signing up for a dance class or joining a recreational sports team. Even small lifestyle changes, such as taking a break from sitting every hour or parking farther away from stores, can help you burn more fat.
- Because smoking increases your risk of cardiovascular problems, it's important to consult your doctor before you begin a fitness routine, particularly if you're new to exercise.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.