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Smoking and Swimming

author image Fiona Bayly
Based in New York City, Fiona Bayly writes about running with a focus on health, nutrition and training strategies for athletes from beginner to professional. She is an avid triathlete, former New England Scholastic Cross Country champion and current member of TeamUSA's age-group championship team in the sport of Aquathlon.
Smoking and Swimming
Swimming is a healthy habit. Smoking is not. Photo Credit rigsby8131/iStock/Getty Images

If you smoke, consider substituting swimming for your cigarettes. Smoking and swimming each affect your health, smoking negatively, swimming positively. Smoking and swimming also each directly involve lung function, smoking negatively, swimming positively. Swimming can actually help you stop smoking.

Smoking Has Negatives

Smoking and Swimming
Avoid smoking. Photo Credit smoke from a cigarette image by Sergey Kharitonov from Fotolia.com

Habits good or bad can be hard to break. As evidenced by numerous smoking-cessation programs and support groups such as those promoted by the American Cancer Society, quitting smoking can require significant effort. However, the payoffs include the decreased likelihood of getting lung, throat or mouth cancer; improved cardiovascular and pulmonary function; fewer respiratory infections; and better breath and dental health. In America, there is an increasingly negative stigma to smoking as well, Finally, cigarettes are expensive; in the USA a single pack costs, on average, $5 a day, or $1700 yearly, per MSN Money -- not counting medical treatments.

Swimming Has Positives

Smoking and Swimming
Swimming build fitness and friendships. Photo Credit swimmers image by astoria from Fotolia.com

Swimming Benefits describes how the sport improves lung and heart function, muscle strength, immunity and even mental health. Swimming is renowned for its mood-elevating endorphins, neurotransmitters that increase pleasurable sensations of well-being. Swimming also builds all-around physical strength and endurance.

Lung Function

Smoking and Swimming
Smoke shuts down lung health. Photo Credit thorax x-ray of the lungs image by JoLin from Fotolia.com

If you smoke, your lungs are susceptible to infection and inflammation caused by smoke's carcinogens and other toxins. Your lungs contain alveoli, tiny air sacs across the membranes of which oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged. This gas exchange is harmed by first-hand and second-hand smoke inhalation but improves significantly with exercise. Muscle Mentor details alveoli activity within the pulmonary system and explains how aerobic exercise increases the actual number of alveoli in the lungs and therefore markedly boosts overall oxygen uptake and cardiopulmonary fitness.


Smoking and Swimming
Swimming generates calming brain chemicals that can help you sleep well. Photo Credit sleeping woman #6 image by Adam Borkowski from Fotolia.com

The American Heart Association states that nicotine is an addictive drug, causing your brain to increasingly crave it. Without enough nicotine, you experience withdrawal pains. Swimming can be addictive, too. In 2008 MSNBC printed an Associated Press report that exercise such as swimming excites similar neurological pathways, hooking the brain on its own feel-good chemicals, and possibly changing brain chemistry enough to prevent drug addiction. Swimming addicts typically also improve muscle tone and cardiac fitness, and, as described by ReadySetGoFitness, naturally increase serotonin, an endorphin that governs restful sleep and a sense of calm.

The Choice is Yours

Smoking and Swimming
Try to break the cigarette habit. Photo Credit two stubs of cigarettes image by terex from Fotolia.com

Swimming's dangers lie in the possibility of drowning, but are minimized by proper technique and lifeguards. Pool chlorine can irritate your eyes, nasal passages and throat, but these irritations are rarely as severe as repeated smoke inhalation. If you are serious about your health, the American Lung Association provides numerous resources to help you quit smoking ... so dive right in.

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