A recent Canadian study has found that joining a running group may do more for your health than just improving your fitness. According to researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC), group physical activity could also help smokers kick the habit.
For their research the team looked at smokers taking part in the 2016 10-week Run to Quit program at Running Room stores across Canada.
The team followed 168 smokers who had registered for the program, which included weekly sessions of classroom time that offered advice on running instruction and quitting smoking, as well as a walking/running component that progressed toward a five-kilometer run.
Seventy-two of the participants completed the full 10 weeks, with 37 of the finishers quitting smoking by the end of the program.
The team also found that 91 percent also reported reducing their smoking.
"This shows that physical activity can be a successful smoking-cessation aid and that a community-based program might offer that," said Carly Priebe, postdoctoral fellow in UBC's school of kinesiology and lead author of the study, "Because doing it on your own is very difficult."
A follow-up 6 months later also showed that 19.6% of participants were still not smoking and 20.8% were still running regularly.
In addition, there were also improvements in physical and mental health.
"Even if someone wasn't able to fully quit, reducing their smoking is great," Priebe said. "But it's also about just being active. Most of our sample was new to running, and if it's something that can become part of their lifestyle then there are health benefits that may counteract some of their smoking behaviors."
The findings can be found published online in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity.