Smoking’s bad for your health, but exactly how does quitting make life better? Here are 10 ways your health will improve when you stop smoking.
The quitting timeline
After 20 minutes your blood pressure and pulse return to normal.
After 24 hours your lungs start to clear.
After two days your body is nicotine-free and your sense of taste and smell improve.
After three days you can breathe more easily, and your energy increases.
After two to 12 weeks, your circulation improves.
After three to nine months coughs, wheezing and breathing improves.
After one year your heart attack risk is half that of a smoker.
After 10 years your lung cancer risk is half that of a smoker.
Stopping smoking improves the body’s bloodflow, so improves sensitivity. Men who stop smoking may get better erections. Women may find that their orgasms improve and they become aroused more easily. It’s also been found that non-smokers are three times more apealling to prospective partners than smokers (one of the advantages, perhaps, of smelling fresh).
Non-smokers find it easier to get pregnant. Quitting smoking improves the lining of the womb and can make men’s sperm more potent. Becoming a non-smoker increases the possibility of conceiving through IVF and reduces the likelihood of having a miscarriage. Most importantly, it improves the chances of giving birth to a healthy baby.
Younger looking skin
Stopping smoking has been found to slow facial ageing and delay the appearance of wrinkles. The skin of a non-smoker gets more nutrients, including oxygen, and can reverse the sallow, lined complexion that smokers often have.
Giving up tobacco stops teeth becoming stained, and you'll have fresher breath. Ex-smokers are less likely than smokers to get gum disease and lose their teeth prematurely.
People breathe more easily and cough less when they give up smoking because their lung capacity improves by up to 10% within nine months. In your 20s and 30s, the effect of smoking on your lung capacity may not be noticeable until you go for a run, but lung capacity naturally diminishes with age. In later years, having maximum lung capacity can mean the difference between having an active, healthy old age and wheezing when going for a walk or climbing the stairs.
Half of all long-term smokers die early from smoking-related diseases, including heart disease, lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. Men who quit smoking by 30 add 10 years to their life. People who kick the habit at 60 add three years to their life. In other words, it’s never too late to benefit from stopping. Quitting not only adds years to your life, but it also greatly improves the chance of a disease-free, mobile, happier old age.
Scientific studies show that people's stress levels are lower after they stop smoking. Nicotine addiction makes smokers stressed from the ‘withdrawal’ between cigarettes. The pleasant feeling of satisfying that craving is only temporary and is not a real cure for stress. Also, the improved levels of oxygen in the body means that ex-smokers can concentrate better and have increased mental wellbeing.
Improved smell and taste
Kicking the smoking habit gives your senses of smell and taste a boost. The body is recovering from being dulled by the hundreds of toxic chemicals found in cigarettes.
Within 2 to 12 weeks of stopping smoking, your circulation improves. This makes all physical activity, including walking and running, much easier.
Quitting also boosts your immune system, making it easier to fight off colds and flu. The increase in oxygen in the body makes ex-smokers less tired and less likely to have headaches.
Healthier loved ones
By stopping smoking you'll be protecting the health of your non-smoking friends and family.
Passive smoking increases a non-smoker's risk of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. Second-hand smoke makes children twice at risk of chest illnesses, including pneumonia, croup (swollen airways in the lungs) and bronchitis, plus more ear infections, wheezing and asthma. They also have three times the risk of getting lung cancer in later life compared with children who live with non-smokers.