Depressed Smokers May Kick the Habit Faster with More Exercise

First Posted: Jul 22, 2014 01:49 PM EDT

What to kick the smoking habit? Exercise could help. New research reveals that people diagnosed with depression who smoke are more likely to drop the habit if they get a bit of extra exercise.

The number of smokers in North America continues to decline. Yet those who have been diagnosed with depression have a much harder time quitting. Not only that, but a larger proportion of people with depression smoke compared with those who do not suffer from this mental health issue. This means that finding solutions to helping those with depression kick the habit is important to lowering the amount of smokers overall.

The researchers conducted an 18-month study to examine the effects of quitting. The scientists found that quitting was easier in the midst of the most basic workouts, since withdrawal symptoms were reduced in the aftermath of regular walks.

"The review should be seen as a call to arms," said Gregory Moullec, one of the researchers, in a news release.

It's also important to note that those who have difficulty quitting may also be suffering from improperly diagnosed depression.

The researchers hope that their findings will show the promising role of exercise in the treatment of both depression and smoking cessation. That said, the scientists also stress that more research needs to be conducted.

"We still need stronger evidence to convince policymakers," said Moullec. "Unfortunately there is still skepticism about exercise compared to pharmacological strategies. But if we continue to conduct ambitious trials, using high-standard methodology, we will get to know which interventions are the most effective of all."

The findings could help those with depression who are trying to quit. By picking up the healthy habit of exercise, they could potentially make it easier to stub out that cigarette.

The findings are published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

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