Ussher M, Taylor A & Faulkner G (2008) Exercise interventions for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2008 (4), Art. No.: CD002295. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD002295.pub3
Background: Taking regular exercise may help people give up smoking by moderating nicotine withdrawal and cravings, and by helping to manage weight gain.
Objectives: To determine whether exercise-based interventions alone or combined with a smoking cessation programme are more effective than a smoking cessation intervention alone.
Search strategy: In July 2008, we searched the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group Specialized Register for studies including the terms 'exercise' or 'physical activity'. We also searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Dissertation Abstracts and CINAHL.
Selection criteria: We included randomized trials which compared an exercise programme alone, or an exercise programme as an adjunct to a cessation programme, with a cessation programme, recruiting smokers or recent quitters, and with a follow up of six months or more.
Data collection and analysis: We extracted data on study characteristics and smoking outcomes. Because of differences in studies we summarized the results narratively, making no attempt at meta-analysis.
Main results: We identified 13 trials, six of which had fewer than 25 people in each treatment arm. They varied in the timing and intensity of the smoking cessation and exercise programmes. Three studies showed significantly higher abstinence rates in a physically active group versus a control group at end of treatment. One of these studies also showed a significant benefit for exercise versus control on abstinence at the three-month follow up and a benefit for exercise of borderline significance (P = 0.05) at the 12-month follow up. One study showed significantly higher abstinence rates for the exercise group versus a control group at the three-month follow up but not at the end of treatment or 12-month follow up. The other studies showed no significant effect for exercise on abstinence.
Authors' conclusions: Only one of the 13 trials offered evidence for exercise aiding smoking cessation at a 12-month follow up. All the other trials were too small to exclude reliably an effect of intervention, or included an exercise intervention which was insufficiently intense to achieve the desired level of exercise. Trials are needed with larger sample sizes, sufficiently intense interventions, equal contact control conditions, measures of exercise adherence and change in physical activity in both exercise and comparison groups.
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Volume 2008, Issue 4