Exercise and healthy eating tips to help you stop smoking for good



One of the main reasons why people smoke is because they believe it makes them feel more relaxed. Finding an alternative outlet that provides you with the relaxation you desire will help you stay away from temptation. Incessant nicotine cravings can also cause stress and anxiety levels to rise, so being able to tune into your body, focus your breaths, and clear your mind can help fight your urges. 

Yoga is the perfect exercise for this, and it also has poses and movements that stretch every part of your body, making it a great choice for a warm-up or a full workout.  

Recommended movements/poses

Child’s pose – helps to relax and focus on your breathing

Sun salutations – stretches and releases tightness in almost every part of the body

Cat-cow – stretches the muscles of the hips, back, abdomen and chest, whilst also relieving built-up tension in these areas


Feeling angry is a common side effect of quitting, and when all you can think about is having a cigarette, it’s natural to get frustrated.  

Any physical exercise can help with this, but boxing is one of the best and arguably most fun ways to relieve pent-up anger. Although this option can come at a cost, using the money you’ve saved by not buying cigarettes can help with funding. 

Punching bags and the additional accessories start from around £30, meaning you don’t have to invest a lot of money if you want to try it. Having a set-up in your home means that whenever you begin to feel frustrated, you can easily punch the anger away.  

Joining a boxing club is another way to participate in this exercise. Some clubs may charge a monthly or yearly membership fee but will provide equipment and training. This can be great for not only releasing your anger, but also learning how to control and manage it. Plus, being part of a community can help keep you accountable and you may even meet people on the same journey as yourself.  


It might seem simple, but walking is one of the easiest ways to curb your cravings; if you have a treadmill, then you can do this from the comfort of your own home. 

However, getting outside and going for a walk can be beneficial in more ways than one. A change in environment can stop you from thinking about smoking, especially if you would usually smoke in your house. Listening to your favourite songs or some feel-good tunes can help block out persistent thoughts, and getting fresh air can relieve anxiety.  

If you have someone to walk with, this might also help, as it can pass the time and keep your mind off wanting a cigarette.  


HIIT, also known as high-intensity interval training, is another great way to get rid of anger and distract yourself from cravings. It involves short bursts of very intense exercise with rests in between.  

HIIT can improve your blood pressure and your aerobic fitness, which is highly beneficial if you smoke. HIIT workouts are intended to be challenging, as you’re aiming to push yourself to 80% of your body’s maximum heart rate. However, if you’re a long-time smoker, it might be better to shorten your exercise bursts to begin and gradually lengthen them as your cardiovascular health improves. 

Both boxing and walking can be considered HIIT as long as you take the necessary breaks, but there is a plethora of other options to choose from to create a high-intensity workout routine.   

  • Jump rope: high impact – keeping a rhythm and counting reps can distract you from your cravings
  • Cycling: low impact – like walking, getting outside in the fresh air can relieve stress and anxiety
  • Burpees: high impact – burpees are tough and demand perseverance; pushing past the discomfort of this exercise can help train your brain to do the same in other scenarios, like quitting smoking
  • Squats: low impact – focusing on the burning sensation in your glutes may divert your attention from wanting a cigarette
  • neurotransmitters like dopamine and endorphins are released when you exercise, making you feel good and helping with symptoms of stress and anxiety.

These exercises are intended to help relieve withdrawal symptoms so you can focus on living a happier, smoke-free life, whilst also improving your physical and mental health in the long run.


Fruit, dairy, wholegrain foods and gum are among the best foods to help curb nicotine cravings

One way to stop yourself from craving to the urge to smoke is to keep your hands and mouth busy. 

Snacking on sticks of fruits and vegetables such as apples, celery or carrots can help to simulate with the repetitive action of raising your hand to your mouth, while also helping to keep your mouth occupied.

Whether you prepare them yourself for the day ahead or buy a pack of pre-cut vegetable batons, having them readily available can help replicate the action of reaching for a cigarette when the urge strikes. 

People who cut out nicotine often report that their appetite increases, and they have difficulty controlling their weight. Since these fruits and vegetables are mainly comprised of water and fibre, they are a good low-calorie option that you are unlikely to consume in excess. 


Popcorn is another low-calorie food that keeps your hands and mouth busy when you are craving the ritual of a cigarette. A lot of shop bought popcorn, contains oil, butter or sugar, which can increase the overall calories, but if you own an air fryer you can create a lower calorie air-popped alternative at home. 

Simply line the air fryer with tin foil and add popcorn kernels without oil or butter. Heat for around 8-9 minutes until the popping stops. You can then dispense to a bowl and add a sprinkling of salt for flavour. 

High fibre wholegrain foods 

As mentioned, a common side effect that follows your last cigarette is that your appetite may significantly increase for a short while. 

Incorporating higher fibre foods such as wholegrain bread and cereals into your diet can help control cravings as they keep you fuller for longer. 

For example, you could start your day with a bowl of porridge, topped with banana for extra fibre, if need be, and finish it with chilli paired with brown rice. 

Fresh or frozen fruit 

When you first give up smoking, it is a normal reaction to have food cravings and an increased appetite, with many finding themselves with a sweeter tooth than normal. 

While this can be satisfied sometimes by enjoying a chocolate bar or packet of sweets, to try keep with a balanced diet it is important to not become too reliant on these treats. 

Having fresh or frozen fruit such as grapes, strawberries, and oranges to munch on can manage the desire for sugar. Plus, the hand-to-mouth motion of snacking on these can replace the action of smoking. 

Sugar free gum or mints 

Chewing sugar-free gum, or sugar free mints can also work to stop cigarette cravings, as it can preoccupy you and distract you from your mouth feeling empty.


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