Efficacy of exercise counselling as an aid for smoking cessation: A randomized controlled trial



West R, Ussher M, McEwen A, Taylor A & Steptoe A (2003) Efficacy of exercise counselling as an aid for smoking cessation: A randomized controlled trial. Addiction, 98 (4), pp. 523-532.

Aim: To examine whether exercise counselling increases smoking abstinence and reduces tobacco withdrawal and gains in weight and body fat. Design: A randomized controlled trial. Setting: A community-based stop smoking clinic. Participants: Two hundred and ninety-nine male and female smokers. Intervention: Participants were assigned randomly to a 7-week smoking cessation programme, including nicotine replacement therapy plus either (i) exercise counselling, or (ii) health education advice with equal contact time as for the exercise counselling condition. Measurements: Six weeks of smoking abstinence was confirmed by expired carbon monoxide. Findings: There was no significant difference in smoking abstinence between the exercise group (n = 154) and the controls (n = 145) at 6 weeks (39.6% versus 38.6%), nor was there any difference in gains in weight or body fat, although those in the exercise group increased their exercise levels. Exercise participants reported less tension, anxiety and stress than the controls during the first week of smoking abstinence (P = 0.03, 0.01 and 0.04, respectively), less irritability throughout 2 weeks of abstinence (P = 0.03), and less restlessness throughout 3 weeks of abstinence (P = 0.04). Conclusions: Adding brief exercise counselling to a smoking cessation programme did not increase smoking abstinence or reduce gains in weight or body fat significantly, although exercise levels were raised and there were some beneficial effects on psychological symptoms.

Addiction: Volume 98, Issue 4

Publication date31/12/2003

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Professor Michael Ussher

Professor Michael Ussher

Professor of Behavioural Medicine, Institute for Social Marketing