If you're a new convert to the life-saving benefits of quitting smoking, you may not just want to stop future health problems, but also reverse some of the damage already done to you by smoking. Smoking takes its toll on your lungs, your heart and blood vessels, and even your skin. While some of this damage is permanent, there are things you can do to reverse some of the damage and improve your overall health, appearance and fitness at the same time.
Exercise for 30 to 60 minutes per day, three to five days per week. This is perhaps the single most important way to reverse smoking damage, aside from quitting, reports the American Cancer Society. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to areas previously restricted due to smoking's narrowing effect on blood vessels. It helps improve skin tone, lung function and heart health.
Eat a well-balanced diet high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Consume meats and dairy in moderation, and consume fast food, saturated fats and trans fat rarely. A healthy diet floods your body with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals it needs to repair cellular damage caused by smoking. Antioxidants may be especially useful in fighting smoking damage, cites MedlinePlus, a website operated by the National Institutes of Health.
Drink around eight glasses of water per day, recommends MayoClinic.com. Water helps flush smoking-related toxins from your body and may even help cut through cravings. Hydration also improves your skin.
Ban smoking by your friends and family in your home or car. Secondhand smoke causes the same deadly damage to your body as first-hand smoke, according to the American Heart Association, and is responsible for between 22,700 to 69,600 deaths per year to those who regularly inhale it.
Create a strategy to help you refrain from relapsing back to smoking. Attend support groups, work with a counselor or lean on your family and friends to avoid the urge to smoke in the future. The act of simply not smoking alone helps your lungs and cardiovascular system heal tremendously. According to the American Cancer Society, after just one year of not smoking, your risk of heart disease reduces by half. After 10 years, your lung cancer risk also drops by half.