Some falsely believe that cigarettes increase energy levels, while also inducing a sense of calm and well-being. However, these assumptions are myths, as smoking actually increases your chances of suffering from chronic fatigue and increased stress over time.
How Nicotine Impacts Energy Levels
Ask any current smoker, and they’ll probably tell you that smoking gives him a boost of clarity, energy, and calmness. This is the result of nicotine, a stimulant found naturally in tobacco products. Nicotine enters the bloodstream quickly and affects brain chemicals, causing a boost in energy levels and a reduction in stress. While this sounds like a positive in favor of smoking, the effects of nicotine are short-lived.
Levels crash very quickly, and the smoker begins to feel jittery, agitated and on edge. Further, energy and mood levels begin to decline below pre-smoking levels. That means the smoker now has to light up just to feel “normal,” giving the false sense of an energy boost, when in fact, smoking lowers energy levels and “feel good” hormones over time. Further smoking only (temporarily) helps thwart these effects, according to Livestrong.
How Smoking Decreases Energy Levels
Smoking has a negative effect on energy levels in other ways as well. Tobacco users suffer from a range of health complications, many of which can take a serious toll on energy levels. For instance, smokers have a lowered lung capacity than that of non-smokers. Less oxygen in the lungs means less oxygen to the brain, muscles, and other bodily systems. Over time, this can easily lead to fatigue and reduced respiratory function.
As the smoker continues, tobacco products continue to wreak havoc on bodily tissues and systems. All of this eventually erodes energy and overall well-being.
Smoking and Blood Sugar
Another way smoking impacts energy levels, and one that many do not consider, is the effects tobacco smoke has on blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that smoking reduces the body’s sensitivity to insulin. When a non-diabetic eats something containing carbohydrates or sugar, the body converts these substances into glucose, a sugar used by the body for energy. In order to properly process glucose, the pancreas releases a chemical called insulin to break it down and make it available for cells to use. In those who don’t respond as well to insulin (insulin resistance), more insulin is needed to process the same level of glucose.
As the body grows more resistant, more and more insulin is needed. This is what eventually leads to Type II Diabetes. Plenty of insulin is available, but the body no longer knows what to do with it.
This effects energy levels because glucose is the body’s preferred energy source. If glucose cannot be adequately processed and used by the body, energy will suffer. Additionally, ineffective glucose distribution may signal to the brain that you need to eat more sugar or carbohydrates. This eventually may lead to further insulin resistance or Type II Diabetes.
Regaining Energy While Smoking
There are things smokers can do to help maintain energy levels to some extent.
Exercise: Getting adequate daily exercise may help boost energy levels by increasing endorphins and improving cardiovascular function. Experts recommend at least half an hour a day of cardiovascular exercise for health benefits.
Eat right: Eating nutrient rich foods that are high in vitamins and minerals and low in sugar and refined carbohydrates will help keep your body healthy.
Get enough sleep: Maintaining a consistent eight hours a night of sleep will help keep energy levels stable.
While these measures will help keep your health from deteriorating in some cases, the only real way to prevent smoking related fatigue and health complications is to quit. There are many smoking cessation aids available for this purpose, so you can easily find something that will work for you.
A note of warning to those who make the choice to quit: for the first several days, you will feel exhausted and irritable. This is your body withdrawing from the nicotine. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms peak in the first 12 to 24 hours after quitting. Symptoms should slowly begin to subside after that. You can use a nicotine replacement product to wean off of nicotine if you feel that withdrawal symptoms are too much to handle.
For more motivation to quit smoking once and for all, visit The Real Cost of Smoking.
Read more about the effects cigarette smoke has on the human body at The Effects of Smoking.
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