I used to run. I started when I was doing karate, to top up my fitness and, if I had a break from training, to get myself back in a condition to cope with long tough karate sessions.
Life got in the way, I haven’t done karate for many years and I miss it. Maybe one day…
So, that left me with the running. But I have had issues, a slipped disc for one, and the running also fell by the wayside.
I smoke, I drink and I am getting older, have you noticed how the years seem to slip by faster and faster? I don’t mind being old and grey, I like the drinking, but I don’t like smoking and I don’t like being unfit. If you are unfit and smoke, you are less able to cope with life’s little challenges, like stairs, for example, or even walking to the pub.
So, I had a very nice offer marking No Smoking Day from SportsShoes.com – a pair of shoes to help motivate me to stop smoking.
Running doesn’t take up a lot of time, you can run all you need for fitness in the time it takes a lot of people to drive to and fro from their gym, you will save on wear and tear on the car, gym subs, you can do it pretty much anywhere and you really don’t need a lot of kit.
What you do need is a good pair of shoes (although I did used to do barefoot running when I was a karateka). Oddly my feet have changed size, a lot. I didn’t know that could happen, but it has and my feet nearly two full sizes larger than they used to be.
So, my lovely pair of Saucony Grid Approach running shoes no longer fit. I had a look through what SportsShoes.com have on offer and deep joy, they sell Saucony shoes. I had a good look through though, and there was a pair of Brooks shoes I fancied (I have heard good things about their shoes), but in the end I settled on a pair of Saucony PowerGrid Xodus 4.0 Trail Running Shoes.
When they came I was thrilled to bits, the look great and are beautifully made. Small hiatus, I mentioned the growing feet – I underestimated and they were too small so I had to send them back and get a half size larger. The turn round on this was pretty quick though and today was my first run in years. Just a half mile, but it is a start. Now to find the E-cigs.
Along with the shoes, Sportsshoes expert panel supplied information on quitting smoking. (Note, all this was intended to happen around Quit Smoking Day. Personally I think every day should be quit smoking day, so let’s not get hung up on dates, eh? Jax.)
To celebrate National Smoking Day this month (12th March 2014), SportsShoes are offering expert advice on how exercise will help you to kick your smoking habit.
Get fit and quit; 5 ways that exercise will increase your chances of quitting for good
1) Improve breathing
Acute cigarette cravings often last just five minutes. If you feel like a cigarette, try going for a run for just 20 minutes, by the time you return your craving will have passed.
Smokers often avoid exercise as they become breathless and get cramps. This is because carbon monoxide hinders the amount of oxygen that reaches the heart. You’ll get more enjoyment from physical activity after you quit smoking and, by gradually building up your exercise levels, you will soon improve your lung intake. Set yourself small targets and you’ll be surprised how quickly you’re able to do more, in fact your lung capacity will improve by up to 10% within nine months – you certainly won’t want to ruin your progress by lighting up!
2) Reduce stress
Many smokers blame their habit on stress but scientific studies show that people’s stress levels are lower after they stop smoking – nicotine addiction actually makes smokers stressed from the ‘withdrawal’ between cigarettes. Physical activity, on the other hand, will improve your state of mind and get the oxygen flowing, which will help you to concentrate better and increase your mental wellbeing. When you are working out, your body will release ‘feel good’ hormones which ease symptoms of depression and fatigue. Key hormones include serotonin, which regulates your mood, dopamine, which helps with concentration and norepinephrine, which influences performance.
3) Increase energy
Within 2 to 12 weeks of stopping smoking, your circulation will improve, this will make all physical activity, including walking and running, much easier. Cardio exercise will get your heart pumping which means it won’t have to beat as often to circulate your blood – thus your resting heart rate will become slower, reducing demands on your body and meaning you will have more energy.
4) Boost immunity
Smoking depresses the body’s immune response so there is less protection from bacterial, viral and fungal infections. A smoker’s body is more toxic too, so the liver is more stressed – making it a target for disease. Quitting smoking will make it easier to fight off colds and flu. Regular exercise will better equip your body to distribute oxygen, as well as encourage efficient functioning of the lymphatic system by stimulating the muscles – this will promote the removal of toxins from your body.
5) Reduce visceral fat
There is increasing evidence that smoking causes greater accumulation of visceral fat, which surrounds your intestines and liver and is a serious health threat. The more you smoke, the more likely you are to store fat in your abdomen rather than on your hips and thighs. Quitting smoking and upping your aerobic activity and strength training will help you to lose visceral fat and gain muscle mass.