How to Get Fit After Smoking

Quitting smoking is no easy task and getting fit following this lifestyle change can also be a difficult process, infact, many people gain weight after smoking and the NHS states that on average, ex-smokers gain around 11lbs in the year after they quit smoking - this is why we’re here to support you! This article will highlight some of the best ways you can ease yourself back into a healthy routine, so, whether your goal is to lose weight or simply boost your fitness level, you’ll have some ideas to get started. 

It’s also worth noting that you may need to consult your GP before engaging in physical activities after you stop smoking, particularly if you have been smoking for a long time.

Breathing exercises after quitting smoking

Smoking affects your lungs so it will take some time for your breathing to improve after quitting. As physical exercise can make you more breathless, it can be a good idea to practice some breathing exercises so it is easier to control your breathing. So, before we get onto what workouts you can try out, practice some of these breathing techniques first:

1. Abdominal breathing exercise

For this exercise, you can choose whether or not to use a small weight - a book or whatever light-weighted object that can rest on your stomach comfortably is perfectly fine. 

  • Firstly, lay on your back with your feet flat on the floor shoulder width apart.
  • If you have a weighted item, place it onto your stomach and hold it in place, otherwise, you can rest your arms by your side.
  • You will now be focusing on breathing diaphragmatically - this means that you are going to activate your abdominal muscles whilst breathing. 
  • Take a deep breath in and allow your stomach to lift the weight up and breathe back out or focus on your stomach expanding.
  • Breathe in through your nose and breathe back out again, repeating this process until you feel relaxed.

What you want to see in this exercise is the weight going up and down as this shows that you are using your abdominal walls to breathe rather than your chest.

2. Equal breathing technique

  • You can sit or stand for this exercise
  • Allow your shoulders to drop and loosen your jaw
  • Breathe in through your nose slowly and count to four in your head
  • Hold your breath for four counts
  • Exhale gently for four counts and be mindful of your shoulders - let them relax and drop down further is possible
  • Repeat this process until your breathing feels better 

3. Pursed lip breathing

  • This breathing technique is ideal for keeping airways open for longer and can be practiced whilst standing or sitting
  • Allow your shoulders to relax
  • Gently inhale through your nose for two seconds (ensuring that your mouth is closed)
  • Exhale slowly for four seconds through your mouth (pursing your lips as you blow out)
  • Repeat this process until you feel more calm

Exercises after quitting smoking

When you quit smoking, you need to take care not to push yourself too hard when trying to get fit - the NHS recommends around two and a half hours of ‘moderate-intensity’ aerobic exercise each week. Incorporating time into your schedule to work on your fitness is important but as you will be likely to experience shortness of breath, you should aim to gradually ease yourself into exercising. Here are some simple workouts you can try:

1. Walking 

Simple, yet effective. Walking is a more gentle, low-impact form of cardio which will help you into your new fitness routine. As you notice improvements to your health, you can challenge yourself to walk further or at a slightly faster pace depending on what you are comfortable with. Try the Active 10 App.

2. Cycling 

Why not hop on a bike and explore your local area? Don’t force yourself to cycle too far to begin with as it may take time to adjust to your new regime. 

3. Yoga and Pilates

Yoga is a low-impact exercise which is also great for anyone with physical disabilities that may prevent them from running or engaging in a medium-impact activity. Try these NHS introduction to Pilates videos.

4. Swimming

Swimming is another great aerobic exercise and it targets different areas of your body too. Moderate-intensity exercises such as cycling and swimming will get you breathing heavier than you usually do without being too overwhelming. If you find that you are struggling, you may be pushing yourself too far, so it’s best to workout at a pace that suits you. 

More Comfortable at home? Take a look at our guide on how to keep fit at home for some easy workouts for beginners. 

5 tips to get fit after you quit smoking

1. Avoid drinking alcohol

After quitting smoking, you may be tempted to replace your nicotine cravings with alcohol - try to avoid slipping into this trap. When you drink you may also fancy a cigarette, especially if you’re in a social setting. A good plan would be to stay clear of places you feel you might struggle not to smoke or drink in until you’re able to manage your cravings. 

2. Maintain a healthy diet

Getting fit is much easier when you are following a healthy diet. Ex-smokers should aim to eat anti-inflammatory and immune boosting foods that help protect the body against infections. We understand that it can be difficult to quit smoking, keep fit and enjoy a balanced diet all at the same time, which is why we have put together a blog on how to find motivation to eat well.

For a healthy diet, avoid foods such as:

  • Processed foods 
  • Sugary or fizzy drinks
  • Takeaways such as pizza
  • Sweets 

Not sure where to start with healthy eating? Take a look at the Easy Meals app for some ideas. 

3. Don’t push yourself too hard

Nobody expects you to throw yourself into an intense fitness regime after quitting smoking. It will take time for your breathing and stamina to improve so you should take things at a steady pace to begin with. 

You also don’t want to exhaust yourself or build up too much stress by setting yourself unrealistic goals as this may tempt you to back into bad habits. 

4. Remember why you quit

Keep reminding yourself of why you decided to quit; whether you want to cut smoking and keep fit to set a good example for your family or you want to reduce your risk of developing health issues down the line, daily reminders will help keep you on track and motivated. It might be a good idea to keep a diary where you can log your thoughts and progress so you can have this conversation with yourself. 

5. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it

Try to talk to your family and friends about your progress and don’t be afraid to reach out if you are struggling with getting fit after you stop smoking - you won’t be the only one! If you’d like help from a professional, we are here to guide you - simply contact us for more information.

Looking for support after you stop smoking? 

If you live in Dorset and need support after you stop smoking, our friendly team of advisors and coaches are on hand to help you reach your goals. Whether you want to lose weight or simply get active, you can register or talk to us today for some advice.


"The LiveWell team are amazing. Every time I speak to them, they are so helpful. Having someone on the end of the phone is an amazing boost."

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How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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