, Volume 174, Issue 3, pp 320–326 | Cite as

Acute effects of a short bout of moderate versus light intensity exercise versus inactivity on tobacco withdrawal symptoms in sedentary smokers

  • James Daniel
  • Mark Cropley
  • Michael Ussher
  • Robert West
Original Investigation



A previous study found that a 10-min bout of moderate intensity exercise reduced cigarette withdrawal symptoms and desire to smoke in sedentary smokers but the effect may have been due to participants focusing attention on physical activity rather than the activity itself.


This study examined the effect of 5 min of moderate intensity exercise and 5 min of light intensity exercise on tobacco withdrawal symptoms amongst sedentary smokers.


Eighty-four smokers attended a laboratory session having abstained from smoking for between 11 and 14 h. Participants were randomly allocated to one of three conditions: (i) light intensity exercise [n=28; 10–20% of heart rate reserve (HRR)]; (ii) moderate intensity exercise (n=28; 40–60% HRR), (iii) a passive control condition (n=28). Both exercise conditions involved 5 min of stationary cycling and participants rated tobacco withdrawal symptoms and cravings immediately before exercise (baseline), during exercise at 2.5 min, immediately following exercise, then after 5 and 10 min of rest. Control participants made the same ratings across an equivalent time period.


For moderate intensity exercise compared to light intensity exercise and control there was a significant reduction in strength of desire to smoke, relative to baseline, both during exercise and up to 5 min post-exercise. Relative to baseline, there were also significant reductions in restlessness, stress, tension and poor concentration at 5 and 10 min post-exercise, for moderate intensity exercise compared to light intensity exercise and control.


Five minutes of moderate intensity exercise is associated with a short-term reduction in desire to smoke and tobacco withdrawal symptoms. Very brief bouts of exercise may therefore be useful as an aid to smoking cessation.


Smoking cessation Intensity Exercise Withdrawal 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Daniel
    • 1
  • Mark Cropley
    • 1
  • Michael Ussher
    • 2
  • Robert West
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK
  2. 2.Department of Community Health Sciences (Psychology), St George’s Hospital Medical SchoolUniversity of LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology and Public HealthUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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