Pumping iron 'can double your chances of quitting smoking'

Weightlifting can do more than just build muscle - it can also help smokers kick the habit, say researchers.

A team from The Miriam Hospital in Rhode Island found men and women are twice as likely to quit smoking if they do regular resistance training.

It builds on previous studies that found aerobic exercise can reduce cigarette cravings as well as control weight gain after kicking the habit.

Smokers were twice as likely to quit if they took part in two one-hour weight lifting sessions a week

Smokers were twice as likely to quit if they took part in two one-hour weight lifting sessions a week

Lead author, Dr Joseph Ciccolo, said: 'Cigarette smoking kills more than a thousand Americans every day, and while the large majority of smokers want to quit, less than five percent are able to do it without help.

'We need any new tools that can help smokers successfully quit and it appears resistance training could potentially be an effective strategy.'

Around one in five British adults smoke in the UK and half of all long-term smokers will die prematurely due to a smoking-related disease.

In their pilot study, reported in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, the team enrolled 25 male and female smokers between the ages of 18 and 65 who reported smoking at least five cigarettes a day for at least one year.

All participants received a 15-20 minute smoking cessation counselling session as well as an eight-week supply of the nicotine patch before being placed in two random groups.

The resistance training group engaged in two, 60-minute training sessions per week for 12 weeks.

The full-body routine involved 10 exercises, with researchers gradually increasing weight and intensity every three weeks. Participants in the control group watched a brief health and wellness video twice a week.

At the end of the 12 weeks, 16 per cent of smokers in the resistance training group had not only quit smoking, but they also decreased their body weight and body fat.

In comparison, eight per cent of individuals in the control group had quit smoking and saw an increase in their body weight and fat.

Three months after the study was completed, 15 per cent of those in the resistance training group had managed not to lapse compared to eight per cent of the control group.

Dr Ciccolo said further research was needed following the 'promising' study before resistance training can be used as a clinical treatment for smoking cessation.