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Stop smoking for good: Try these exercises to curb cravings

The decision to quit smoking can be difficult, but sticking to the decision afterward can be even harder. From yoga to boxing, these ultimate exercises can help you beat nicotine cravings

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Closeup on shoe of athlete runner man feet running on road

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By Go Smoke Free

The ultimate exercises to eliminate your nicotine cravings

Deciding to quit smoking can be a difficult choice to make, but sticking to your decision afterwards, especially when the cravings hit, can be even harder. There are various methods you can use to help ease withdrawal symptoms, from therapy to nicotine patches, and even by eating certain foods. But is there a way to relieve cravings physically?

Go Smoke Free has revealed the ultimate exercises for beating nicotine cravings, allowing you to live a healthier and more active lifestyle.


One of the main reasons why people smoke is because they believe it makes them feel more relaxed. Finding an alternative outlet that provides you with the relaxation you desire will help you stay away from temptation. Incessant nicotine cravings can also cause stress and anxiety levels to rise, so being able to tune into your body, focus your breaths, and clear your mind can help fight your urges.

Yoga is the perfect exercise for this, and it also has poses and movements that stretch every part of your body, making it a great choice for a warm-up or a full workout.

Recommended movements/poses:

  • Child’s pose – helps to relax and focus on your breathing
  • Sun salutations – stretches and releases tightness in almost every part of the body
  • Cat-cow - stretches the muscles of the hips, back, abdomen and chest, whilst also relieving built-up tension in these areas

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Feeling angry is a common side effect of quitting, and when all you can think about is having a cigarette, it’s natural to get frustrated.

Any physical exercise can help with this, but boxing is one of the best and arguably most fun ways to relieve pent-up anger. Although this option can come at a cost, using the money you’ve saved by not buying cigarettes can help with funding.

Punching bags and the additional accessories start from around $40 on websites like Amazon, meaning you don’t have to invest a lot of money if you want to try it. Having a set-up in your home means that whenever you begin to feel frustrated, you can easily punch the anger away.

Joining a boxing club is another way to participate in this exercise. Some clubs may charge a monthly or yearly membership fee but will provide equipment and training. This can be great for not only releasing your anger, but also learning how to control and manage it. Plus, being part of a community can help keep you accountable and you may even meet people on the same journey as yourself.

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It might seem simple, but walking is one of the easiest ways to curb your cravings; if you have a treadmill, then you can do this from the comfort of your own home.

However, getting outside and going for a walk can be beneficial in more ways than one. A change in environment can stop you from thinking about smoking, especially if you would usually smoke in your house. Listening to your favorite songs or some feel-good tunes can help block out persistent thoughts, and getting fresh air can relieve anxiety.

If you have someone to walk with, this might also help, as it can pass the time and keep your mind off wanting a cigarette.

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HIIT, also known as high-intensity interval training, is another great way to get rid of anger and distract yourself from cravings. It involves short bursts of very intense exercise with rests in between.

HIIT can improve your blood pressure and your aerobic fitness, which is highly beneficial if you smoke. HIIT workouts are intended to be challenging, as you’re aiming to push yourself to 80% of your body’s maximum heart rate. However, if you’re a long-time smoker, it might be better to shorten your exercise bursts to begin and gradually lengthen them as your cardiovascular health improves.

Both boxing and walking can be considered HIIT as long as you take the necessary breaks, but there is a plethora of other options to choose from to create a high-intensity workout routine.

Exercises can include:

  • Jump rope: high impact – keeping a rhythm and counting reps can distract you from your cravings
  • Cycling: low impact – like walking, getting outside in the fresh air can relieve stress and anxiety
  • Burpees: high impact – burpees are tough and demand perseverance; pushing past the discomfort of this exercise can help train your brain to do the same in other scenarios, like quitting smoking
  • Squats: low impact – focusing on the burning sensation in your glutes may divert your attention from wanting a cigarette

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A spokesperson from Go Smoke Free has commented on these recommendations:

“If you’ve quit smoking, it’s more than likely that you’ve experienced cravings for a cigarette. Some people can ignore these cravings, but for others, the task is far more difficult, and extra support is needed.

“According to NHS England, neurotransmitters like dopamine and endorphins are released when you exercise, making you feel good and helping with symptoms of stress and anxiety.

“These exercises are intended to help relieve withdrawal symptoms so you can focus on living a happier, smoke-free life, whilst also improving your physical health in the long run.”