The efficacy of exercise as an aid for smoking cessation in women: A randomized controlled trial

Bess H. Marcus, Anna E. Albrecht, Teresa K. King, Alfred F. Parisi, Bernardine M. Pinto, Mary Roberts, Raymond S. Niaura, David B. Abrams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Smoking prevalence rates among women are declining at a slower rate than among men. Objective: To determine if exercise, a healthful alternative to smoking, enhances the achievement and maintenance of smoking cessation. Methods: Two hundred eighty-one healthy, sedentary female smokers were randomly assigned to either a cognitive-behavioral smoking cessation program with vigorous exercise (exercise) or to the same program with equal staff contact time (control). Subjects participated in a 12-session, group- based smoking cessation program. Additionally, exercise subjects were required to attend 3 supervised exercise sessions per week and control subjects were required to participate in 3 supervised health education lectures per week. Abstinence from smoking was based on self-report, was verified by saliva cotinine level, and was measured at 1 week after quit day (week 5), end of treatment (week 12), and 3 and 12 months later (20 and 60 weeks after quit day, respectively). Results: Compared with control subjects (n = 147), exercise subjects (n = 134) achieved significantly higher levels of continuous abstinence at the end of treatment (19.4% vs 10.2%, P = .03) and 3 months (16.4% vs 8.2%, P = .03) and 12 months (11.9% vs 5.4%, P = .05) following treatment. Exercise subjects had significantly increased functional capacity (estimated VO2 peak, 25 ± 6 to 28 ± 6, P<.01) and had gained less weight by the end of treatment (3.05 vs 5.40 kg, P = .03). Conclusions: Vigorous exercise facilitates short- and longer-term smoking cessation in women when combined with a cognitive-behavioral smoking cessation program. Vigorous exercise improves exercise capacity and delays weight gain following smoking cessation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1229-1234
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Internal Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 14 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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