Smoking is one of the great scourges for those afflicted with the addiction. Most smokers have indicated a desire to quit smoking, yet they are sometimes not ready or they may say that they are simply unable. While the majority of smokers are aware that there are a number of negative health effects that are caused by smoking, many do not realize that the immediate benefits for smokers who quit smoking now. There are also a number of long-term benefits that can be gained, resulting in the reversal of a great deal of the damage that may have been caused by smoking.
Impact of Quitting Is Realized Immediately
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an individual who has quit smoking will begin to see immediate benefits. 20 minutes after an individual quits smoking, their heart rates begin to return to normal, with blood pressure soon to follow. While there are certain to be cravings as well, the first day a smoker quits, there are a number of positive changes that begin:
- Decreases in carbon monoxide levels
- Improved circulation
- Reduction in the risk of a heart attack
Reduced Risk of Heart Attack
Smokers often repeat a fairly common refrain to explain the continuance of their smoking despite knowing the dangers, saying, “The damage has already been done.” While it is certain that a great deal of damage has indeed been done, a lot of that damage can be reversed through the cessation of smoking. This includes the risk of heart attack. The risk among smokers is 70 percent higher than it is among non-smokers, but that risk can begin to be reduced within the first day of quitting smoking. After a year without smoking, the risk of heart attack is reduced by fifty percent from the time when smoking was still occurring.
Deadened Senses Will Return
One of the more interesting aspects of giving up smoking is that many of the senses that were deadened by smoking will begin to return. After about 48 hours, quitters will begin to recognize enhanced senses of smell and taste, both of which are impacted by the act of smoking. By quitting smoking, the nerve endings of a former smoker will be allowed to re-grow, causing the return of these senses.
Increased Ability to Exercise
Clearly, smoking inhibits lung function. As a result, it is difficult for smokers to engage in any number of physical activities without feeling winded or exhausted. Upon quitting smoking, lung function and circulation begin to improve immediately, and most former smokers report being able to exercise for extended periods of time about three weeks after quitting. This is because the body is undergoing a number of regenerative processes, allowing for an increase in exercise and improved overall health and well-being.
Reduced Cancer Risk
There are a number of long-term benefits to smoking cessation, with the reduced risk of cancer being chief among them. Smoking is responsible for 90 percent of the cancer deaths all over the world, and quitting smoking reduces the chances of dying from lung cancer, along with several other types of cancers. Ten years after quitting, the risk of lung cancer developing is reduced by half in a former smoker.