If you’ve been smoking for a while, you might wonder if quitting’s even worth it. Maybe the cravings and nicotine withdrawal just turn you off to the whole idea. You wonder, “The damage is done, so does it really make a difference?”
Absolutely. Your body has an amazing ability to heal itself, and it happens quicker than you think — less than half an hour after you put out that last cigarette. And keep in mind, you’re more likely to succeed if you have a plan to handle those cravings, especially in the first few weeks.
Quitting smoking is tough. It’s probably why about 70% of smokers actually want to quit but don’t. It’s also why only about 7% of smokers successfully quit on their first try. (1) But there is the positive side of the story. The changes in your body from the moment you stop smoking are exponential and all hope is not loss to revert the damage done to your health.
Deciding to quit smoking isn’t easy, but these facts will prove a handy companion to remind you daily why you are choosing once and for all to stop.
Quit smoking now and you can expect to see the following 10 health benefits both immediately and long term:
- Within 20 minutes of finishing your last cigarette, your blood pressure will have lowered to a normal level, encouraging blood flow and proper circulation to hands and feet.
- 8 hours after your last puff the levels of the deadly carbon monoxide gas in your bloodstream will be cut in half, allowing oxygen in to help clear out irritants and harmful bacteria.
- Only 48 hours after smoking the chances of having a heart attack are reduced substantially. As well at this stage nicotine will have been completely flushed from your system and the sense of smell and taste will be renewed.
- 3 days from your last cigarette you will notice your ability to breath is easier and your bronchial tubes will have relaxed. At this stage, you will feel more energetic, which will come as a nice boost to the stress of quitting.
- Between 2 weeks and 2 months post smoking, you will find it easier to walk as your circulation will have improved and lung function increased up to 30%.
- In 3 to 9 months your ability to breathe will no longer be troubled by coughing, congestion, and general respiratory issues. At this stage, a regrowth of fibers in your bronchial tubes will increase the ability to handle mucus and clean lungs of bacteria leading to infections.
- At the 1 year mark, you will have reduced your risk of a heart attack by half and energy levels will be that of a non-smoker.
- 5 years from your last cigarette you will have reduced your risk of having a stroke to that of a non-smoker.
- Being a non-smoker for 10 years will effectively revert the damage to your lungs and reduce your chances of lung cancer to that of a person who has never smoked. Not only are you less at risk for lung cancer, but the 30 plus other chemicals found in tobacco that cause cancer will have been cleaned from your system.
- 15 years after quitting you will have an equal risk of suffering a major heart attack as those that have never smoked. Essentially you will have cleaned your system of the damages that tobacco and nicotine have on a healthy functioning body.
When you start out, it seems like a long road. But at 15 years, the headaches and discomfort of those first few weeks are a hazy memory. They can seem unbearable at the time, but you can get through it. The rewards are very real and clear.
The dangerous effects of smoking on the body are often underlined in an effort to get people to quit, and yet what can be more influential in the path to quitting are the positive results of each day off the habit. Remember that “once a smoker” can be turned into “never a smoker”!