Adding exercise to a smoking cessation program can help teenage boys quit smoking, a new study in the journal Pediatrics suggests. The researchers were surprised to find exercise did not help teenage girls quit.
The study included 233 high school smokers, most of whom smoked daily, Time reports. The teens were divided into three groups. One group participated in a 15-minute session on the importance of quitting smoking.
The second group was assigned N-O-T (Not On Tobacco), an American Lung Association smoking cessation program for teens. The program consists of 10 one-hour sessions that cover the consequences of smoking and help participants develop coping skills needed for quitting. They talk about peer pressure and controlling their weight after they stop smoking.
The third group combined N-O-T with exercise. After three months, the teens were asked if they had smoked a cigarette in the past week. The researchers found the boys in the third group were four times more likely to stop smoking than those in the other two groups, according to a journal press release. In the N-O-T plus exercise group, 13.75 percent of participants reported quitting for at least seven days at the end of the program, compared with 11 percent in the N-O-T group, and 4.7 percent among the boys who didn’t participate in N-O-T.
Among girls, those who participated in N-O-T without the exercise were most successful in quitting, a finding that puzzled the researchers.