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TOPIC: Can you run after smoking 20 yrs and quitting?

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July 11, 2011 11:51 PM
I'm on 35 hours after quitting smoking and hoping I kick them this time, but does anyone know how long it will take to be able to run again or if its possible when I get winded so fast just with walking right now?
July 11, 2011 11:53 PM
I have no idea how long, but I'm sure over time you will improve. FWIW, I'm not a smoker and running is tough on the lungs for me, because I don't think my lung capacity has improved much yet. But it's getting there and I'm sure it will for you too. Try to pace your breathing... I do two paces inhale, two paces exhale. And maybe just start with a light jog.

Good Luck with QUITTING!!!! :o)
Edited by beccau_20 On July 11, 2011 11:54 PM
July 11, 2011 11:55 PM
July 11, 2011 11:57 PM
I saw a noticeable difference after 2 or 3 weeks, but it took me about 9 months to be able to breathe like I did before I started. I only smoked about 3 years though.
July 11, 2011 11:58 PM
I am still a smoker,(yeah yeah, I should quit) and I am able to run, I am finding that the more weight I loose the easier running becomes. Start small a min at a time then walk then run. I am now upto 20 mins of running and 20 mins of walking.
July 12, 2011 12:09 AM
So im guessing if i quit smoking i will hit the goal of running faster and longer than if i dont quit. Guess I'll see in the weeks to come after quitting.
July 12, 2011 12:13 AM
If I remember it correctly, you should be as good as you are going to get after about a year, barring any chronic changes to your body; i.e. emphysema and such. Good job on quitting and good luck!! I plan to run again, but recently started again after a death in the family. I plan on quitting for good this time, and I fully intend to run again. I can't now, because of leg problems, but I'm riding my bike about 10 miles a day and am getting better slowly. Keep up what you are doing, running isn't the be all end all of fitness.
July 12, 2011 12:18 AM
A year can't be right for everyone who quits because everyone has different things that can affect their ability to run and for how long like weight. At the moment I weigh 290 and a year from now all my weight may not be gone and I would think that with the more I lose along with quitting the better I'll be at any activity. That's why I'm not sure a year covers it. Just my opinion.
July 12, 2011 12:39 AM
Has anyone been here done this who has a better more knowledgeable answer?
July 12, 2011 12:42 AM
if you want the truth, I would talk to your dr. they would know best the condition of your lungs and how it will affect you the most.
July 12, 2011 12:44 AM
Plenty of runner smoke. They shouldn't, but they do. There are always articles about it in Women's Running magazine.

If you want to run, just do it. Start a program, or just get out there and walk fast. Don't give yourself the chance to slide back into smoking. Everyone's lungs hurt when they start running, it's just a question of building up stamina. Just start out very very slow.
July 12, 2011 12:58 AM
I don't do a lot of running (agrivates my knee) but I do a lot of other cardio especially Zumba. And I started this before I quit smoking.

January I realised I needed to change - I was overweight and utterly, utterly unfit, smoking between 20 and 40 cigs a day & drinking far too much. I'd get out of breath climbing a single flight of stairs.

So, week one I stopped drinking. Week two I started watching what I ate. Week three, started walking. Week 4, Zumba. When I got to Feb 1st, I stopped smoking. And have never looked back. I've seen improvememtns in fitness and energy week on week. I've cut down on the cardio now to concentrate on strength, but at my highest level of cardio I was doing Zumba 4 times a week, C25K 3 times a week and taking the dogs on loooong walks daily.

Good luck with the non-smoking. It is the single best thing you could do for yourself. Feel free to friend me if I can be of any supportsmile
August 9, 2012 8:47 AM
Just to chime in,

My background... (it doesn't get any more atheltic than me when I was a kid) Super athletic, every sport including cross country, track, and professional fighting. Went into the Marine Corps. Started smoking. Even smoking had no problem running a 5k in 18 minutes. Got out of the Marine Corps and stopped excercising completely.

Here it is 13 Years after getting out. I have smoked for 16 years and have not excercised for 13 years.

3 Months ago I decided to start working out again and started going to the gym.

2 Weeks ago I decided I would quit smoking.

At 2 weeks I can really tell how bad smoking was on my lungs. Yesterday was the first time I ran out of the gym in 13 years. It hurt. I was only able to run 1.75 miles. But I was able to run 1.75 miles.

All I can say is it takes a lot of determination to start excercising, and it takes more determination that you would believe to stop smoking. I struggled sooooo much to stop. I did some research and nicoteen is one of the most addictive substances. You will be worse then a heroin addict for about 3 days and then it will go down.

About 1 week after you stop smoking you will start hacking up stuff that doesn't belong in your lungs, and after that point you will start feeling more lung capacity.

Thats what I have so far. Hope it helps. If you need any help feel free to add me. If your in Socal hit me up would be more then happy to help.

As a side note, one thing that I do believe helped a little believe it or not is that I changed my diet pretty extreem the same day that I decided to stop smoking.
August 9, 2012 11:31 AM
Everyone is different so really you are the only one who can answer this question. If it were me, I also quit smoking recently (3rd time quitting for about 2 weeks now cold turkey), I would start with a brisk walk. If you can handle that, work your way to a short job, then a short run. Gradually increase the distance and pace as you are comfortable with it. If you seem to be having issues, as a doctor to check you out and make sure you are ok. Smoking may have damaged your lungs and you may need an inhaler. Hope that helps!
August 9, 2012 11:37 AM
I have been smoking for over 20 years and I have not fully quit yet. But I decided to start running anyway. I got an app for my phone called Couch to 5K and I am in the final week of the app. Even though I have not fully quit yet, I ran for 30 minutes straight yesterday. I run in the morning so it is usually 8-10 hours since my last cigarette, but if you have gone more than a day, you are ready. I really suggest starting off slow. The app from really helped me. I started with a minute walk, minute job and did that for 20 minutes. I thought it was too easy and wanted to do more, but stuck with the program. I can't remember the last time I ran a mile, but I am now up to 2 1/2 miles. I run 3x a day and I am ready to run my first continuous 5K. It is never too late. I am now at a level that I HAVE to quit. If I want to continue to run, smoking is starting to get in the way.

I wish you the best of luck!
August 9, 2012 11:40 AM

I'm on 35 hours after quitting smoking and hoping I kick them this time, but does anyone know how long it will take to be able to run again or if its possible when I get winded so fast just with walking right now?

According to

2 weeks to 3 month your lung function will improve

Within ...
20 minutes
Your blood pressure, pulse rate, and the temperature of your hands and feet will all return to normal.
8 hours
Remaining nicotine in your bloodstream will have fallen to 6.25% of normal peak daily levels, a 93.25% reduction.
12 hours
Your blood oxygen level will have increased to normal and carbon monoxide levels will have dropped to normal.
24 hours
Anxieties peak in intensity and within two weeks should return to near pre-cessation levels.
48 hours
Damaged nerve endings have started to regrow and your sense of smell and taste are beginning to return to normal. Cessation anger and irritability peaks.
72 hours
Your entire body will test 100% nicotine-free and over 90% of all nicotine metabolites (the chemicals it breaks down into) will now have passed from your body via your urine. Symptoms of chemical withdrawal have peaked in intensity, including restlessness. The number of cue induced crave episodes experienced during any quitting day will peak for the "average" ex-user. Lung bronchial tubes leading to air sacs (alveoli) are beginning to relax in recovering smokers. Breathing is becoming easier and the lungs functional abilities are starting to increase.
5 - 8 days
The "average" ex-smoker will encounter an "average" of three cue induced crave episodes per day. Although we may not be "average" and although serious cessation time distortion can make minutes feel like hours, it is unlikely that any single episode will last longer than 3 minutes. Keep a clock handy and time them.
10 days
10 days - The "average ex-user is down to encountering less than two crave episodes per day, each less than 3 minutes.
10 days to 2 weeks
Recovery has likely progressed to the point where your addiction is no longer doing the talking. Blood circulation in our gums and teeth are now similar to that of a non-user.
2 to 4 weeks
Cessation related anger, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, impatience, insomnia, restlessness and depression have ended. If still experiencing any of these symptoms get seen and evaluated by your physician.
21 days
Brain acetylcholine receptor counts up-regulated in response to nicotine's presence have now down-regulated and receptor binding has returned to levels seen in the brains of non-smokers.
2 weeks to 3 months
Your heart attack risk has started to drop. Your lung function is beginning to improve.
3 weeks to 3 months
Your circulation has substantially improved. Walking has become easier. Your chronic cough, if any, has likely disappeared.
1 to 9 months
Any smoking related sinus congestion, fatigue or shortness of breath have decreased. Cilia have regrown in your lungs thereby increasing their ability to handle mucus, keep your lungs clean, and reduce infections. Your body's overall energy has increased.
1 year
Your excess risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke has dropped to less than half that of a smoker.
5 to 15 years
Your risk of stroke has declined to that of a non-smoker.
10 years
Your risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer is between 30% and 50% of that for a continuing smoker (2005 study). Risk of death from lung cancer has declined by almost half if you were an average smoker (one pack per day). Your risk of pancreatic cancer has declined to that of a never-smoker (2011 study), while risk of cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus has also declined. Your risk of developing diabetes is now similar to that of a never-smoker (2012 study).
13 years
Your risk of smoking induced tooth loss has declined to that of a never-smoker (2006 study).
15 years
Your risk of coronary heart disease is now that of a person who has never smoked.
20 years
Female excess risk of death from all smoking related causes, including lung disease and cancer, has now reduced to that of a never-smoker (2008 study). Risk of pancreatic cancer reduced to that of a never-smoker (2011 study).
August 9, 2012 11:41 AM
It will 5 years ago on Aug 18th that I quit smoking after a 15 year habit of at least a pack a day. I was running while I was smoking, too.

You're gonna get winded for awhile, depends on what your fitness level is/was. Just push through. Build in some walking to your running to catch your breath (ie 2 min run/1 min walk). I always got really sick after I would quit, too, with upper respiratory infection so don't let that get you down.

BTW- beat nicotines ass. It's the best thing you'll ever do for yourself, and also the hardest
August 20, 2012 3:45 PM
Update for everyone. I met my weekly mileage last week for the first time. I ran 8.5 miles last week in 3 runs. I can still feel way out of shape, but the lungs are starting to free up a bit more.
Edited by boostnerd On August 20, 2012 3:45 PM
March 7, 2013 10:24 AM
The topic has been a concern to me when i quit. quit @ the age of 35, after smoking since I was 14. Running ( albeit slow) was integral in quitting. Last year ran a half marathon and finished in the bottom of the 2nd 3rd (4th year off the tabacco sticks). So i bested 1/3 of the group. Not bad, hurray for me. Next step, playing soccer again. Different type of activity, much more lung intensive. SImply could not keep up with the pack. Had a miserable time. Training will change to more sprints and hills. less trotting along the flats. Maybe lung strength can be effected.

Bottom line, after 9 months don't expect much change in your lung capacity. What ever emphysema you have, you got. I have found nothing to disprove this. Including personal experience. Oh! did i hope the damage could be worked away.

As to running just after quitting...heart rate monitor. keep yourself in check. Track your progress. see the results to stay positive and goal orientated.
Edited by sndhandsmoke On March 7, 2013 10:29 AM
May 28, 2014 2:04 PM
You will improve over time I did and here's my story. I started smoking at 14 started smoking weed and taking acid at 15 by 17 I was also drinking and using extacy and coke did all this every day till I was 20 oh I was over weight too after going to jail I quit everything except smoking cigs eating fast food soda and beer by 25 I was 6"2' tall and 350lbs I stayed that way till 28 at that piont my wife had gastric bypass and I said fine u do that ill fix my self I quit smoking gave up soda learned how to cook healthy foods bought a treadmill and weights I'm now 30 down to 210 can run 4 miles in about 30 min and feal great wish I could do it all over again and have started this years ago.
May 28, 2014 2:15 PM
Just realized this was a 3 year old post, oh well replied to it anyway...

I smoked for 30 years, I quit two years ago (will never go back to that addiction again!) and gained a bunch of weight, it was still the best decision I made though. For over a year now I have been exercising regularly and have started running this past winter, I can now do more than 5k.

Don't let the fact that you just quit stop you from running, start slow, try the Couch to 5 K program (google: C25K). Your lungs are very resilient, and could use the starting of running to help clear them out. I wish I had started biking and running shortly after I quit, it would have made somewhat of a difference for me and I think it would have made quitting easier for me. Today though, I can bike 30+K and run 5k all in the same day (right after each other - and then go do yard work!) and feel great, that I could not have done when I was a smoker!
Edited by Hiker_Rob On May 28, 2014 2:18 PM


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