Effect of exercise on cigarette cravings and ad libitum smoking following concurrent stressors
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The health consequences of smoking are well documented, yet quit rates are modest. While exercise has supported decreased cravings and withdrawal symptoms in temporarily abstinent smokers, it has yet to be applied when smokers are experiencing concurrent stressors. This study examined the effect of an acute bout of moderate intensity exercise on cravings (primary outcome) and ad libitum smoking (secondary outcome) following concurrent stressors (i.e., temporary abstinence and environmental manipulation-Stroop cognitive task+cue-elicited smoking stimuli). Twenty-five smokers (>10cig/day; Mean age=37.4years) were randomized into either exercise (n=12) or passive sitting conditions. A repeated measure (RM) ANOVA showed that psychological withdrawal symptoms (a measure of distress) were significantly exacerbated after temporary abstinence and then again after the environmental manipulation for all participants (p<.0001, η(2)=.50). Furthermore, a treatment by time RM ANOVA revealed decreases in psychological withdrawal symptoms for only the exercise condition (p<.001, η(2)=.42). A treatment by time RM ANOVA also revealed craving reductions for only the exercise condition (p<.0001, η(2)=.82). Exercise had no effect on ad libitum smoking. This is the first study to use a lab-based scenario with high ecological validity to show that an acute bout of exercise can reduce cravings following concurrent stressors. Future work is now needed where momentary assessment is used in people's natural environment to examine changes in cigarette cravings following acute bouts of exercise.
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