Everybody knows smoking is damaging for their health. But I know there will be a few people, even people reading this blog, who have convinced themselves that if they just do everything else well, that smoking isn’t so bad for them.
They are wrong.
Smoking is the single most dangerous thing you can do to your health, unless you are playing Russian roulette, which, though faster, has less risk of killing you (half of smokers will die from a tobacco-related disease). Smoking does so many bad things to your health I could use every word in this post to list the diseases caused by or made worse by smoking. I don’t want to do that – instead, I want to concentrate on why quitting smoking now – right now! – makes you healthier.
First of all – you will live longer. Depending on how heavy a smoker you are and when you quit (the sooner, the better), you can increase life expectancy up to 8 or even 10 years. That doesn’t just mean you will live to 75 instead of dying at 65 (as an example), but it means that the premature aging you have done to your body can begin to reverse itself and you can start feeling younger now. This process takes time, but, gradually, smokers notice improvements in many systems, including sensation (taste, smell), cardiac and pulmonary (better stamina, easier breathing), and many others. You will be reducing health risks for people around you as well.
One thing we found out while researching the RealAge Test is that people who have good behaviors tend to have other good behaviors, and the converse is true, too. Smokers tend to exercise less, see their doctors less frequently, and have less healthy diets than nonsmokers. They also tend to drive more recklessly and have a higher rate of accidental death. However, when people quit smoking, these behaviors tend to change as well. Ex-smokers are even less likely to have car accidents than smokers.
Some studies have shown that changing one behavior can lead to others improving too. By starting with one small step, you can make it easier to take bigger steps later. I mean that literally: Walking a few extra steps each day can make it easier to successfully quit smoking. An exercise program, even one as informal as a half-hour walk daily, can make it easier to quit smoking and have a healthier diet, and reduces stress.
Of all the things you can do to improve your health, if you are a smoker, the most important by far, is to quit, and the sooner, the better. Your doctor has many resources to help.
Read my previous blogs to learn more about all that went into building the RealAge Test. Look out next week for my next blog, where I’ll continue to discuss the factors involved in the RealAge Test to help people feel younger and live longer. Take the test, if you haven’t already.