Kick the habit and reap the benefits

The benefits of quitting smoking are numerous - from reducing the risk of heart attack, to an increase in energy levels. Lent is well underway, and with many people trying to quit smoking during this period, the Laya Healthcare health and wellness team have some helpful advice to ensure success.

The experts at Laya Healthcare have put together a smoking cessation guide to help identify whether smoking is an addiction you suffer from and, if so, how best to kick the habit.

Are you addicted?

Have you ever felt a need to cut down or control your smoking, but found it hard to do so?

Do you ever get annoyed or angry with people who criticise your smoking or tell you that you should give up?

Have you ever felt guilty about your smoking or about something you did while smoking?

Do you smoke within half an hour of waking up?

If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, then you are addicted to smoking.

Benefits of quitting

The health benefits of quitting smoking begin right away:

Within 20 minutes, your circulation will improve and your heart rate and blood pressure will lower. This reduces the risk of heart attack straight away.

Within eight hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood will drop and the oxygen level will go up.

Within 24 to 48 hours, all the carbon monoxide will have left your body.

Within a few days, your sense of smell and taste will start to improve.

After 72 hours, your breathing will improve and your energy levels will increase.

Within two or three months, your lung capacity can increase by up to 30 per cent.

Within one year, your chance of heart attack drops by half, and within 10 years the risk of heart attack lowers to almost the same as a non-smoker.

Within five years, the risk of smoking related cancers will be greatly reduced.

Once you give up smoking, your lungs start to fight back by coughing up tar. A mug full of tar builds up in the lungs of a 20-a-day smoker over a period of a year. It is the toxic chemicals in tar that cause cancer.

Taking action

Set a date to stop smoking.

Ask for support from family and friends.

Talk to your GP.

Think positively and picture yourself as a non-smoker.

Prepare your surroundings and throw out any remaining cigarettes.

Be prepared to change your routine. During the times you normally had a cigarette, fill these gaps with activities you enjoy.

Reward yourself with the money you save from not smoking.

Watch what you eat as food should not become a substitute for cigarettes.

No excuses, social smoking is still smoking!

Be prepared for difficult times.

Stay focused on the health and financial benefits.

Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and hypnosis can also be of benefit.

Contact the National Smokers’ Quitline on callsave 1850 201 203 to talk to an advisor.

For more helpful tips to ensure you are in tip-top shape, in both body and mind, keep up with Laya Healthcare on Facebook/LayaHealthcare or Twitter @layahealthcare.

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