When Smoking Ends, Benefits Begin (Right Away!)

Last week, our Wellness Wednesday feature discussed how adopting healthy habits can help in the effort to quit smoking. This week, we’re very happy to report that if you need more incentive to quit, you can consider how quickly that decision begins to deliver tangible health benefits.

According to HealthLine.com, improved health literally begins within minutes of smoking. Blood pressure and heart rates are elevated during smoking episodes, but return to normal within 20 minutes. Within 8-to-12 hours, blood oxygen levels increase and carbon monoxide levels are lessened. Go a few days without a cigarette and you are likely to experience improved senses of smell and taste.

In a matter of weeks, ex-smokers are less at risk of a heart attack. Blood circulation is better, blood pressure is lower, lung and oxygen function are improved. This cumulative reduction in stress makes a heart attack less likely.

In a matter of months, the typical former smoker begins to feel more energetic. Coughing, shortness of breath and sinus congestion are decreased as well.

Habitual smokers are more likely to die of heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. The good news here is that the longer smoking is in the past, the greater likelihood that a body will greatly recover from its impact.

Within a year of quitting, the risk of heart disease is reduced by 50%. Within a decade or so, stroke risk is lessened dramatically and the likelihood of dying from lung cancer drops to the same probability as lifelong non-smokers. Within 15 years, the same circumstances are true regarding heart disease. The longer you are a former smoker, the better your cholesterol and blood pressure levels are as well.

Our bodies are incredibly capable of recovering from unhealthy environments when we give them a chance. If you’re thinking of stopping smoking, consider this another incentive to do so.