There was a time when sports stars and athletes promoting smoking brands was common. Babe Ruth famously appeared on adverts for Raleigh cigarettes, Chewing Tobacco and White Owl cigars. The St Louis Cardinals baseball team promoted Camel Cigarettes, and serval prominent tennis players have appeared in adverts for cigarettes. The modern-day sportsperson is a little more selective about what they put in their bodies. We all know how harmful cigarettes are for the body, and for anyone serious about their sport, smoking is not something they want to be doing.
But what about vaping and exercise? Does vaping help or hinder people during athletic performance?
Smoking and Exercise – What are the Effects?
Smoking reduces your ability to exercise and, therefore, your overall fitness. It impairs a person's athletic performance in a number of ways.
Blood – Smoking makes exercise feel harder as the nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarettes causes the blood to become 'sticky' and narrows your arteries. Narrow arteries mean your blood does not move around your body quickly enough. It's the blood flow that carries oxygen to your muscles and organs. With the oxygen supply reduced, your body simply does not work as well.
Heart – When you smoke, you increase your resting heart rate. Your resting heart rate is the number of beats your heart takes each minute when you are not active. When we exercise, our heart rate increases. For smokers who already have a high rate, this can put extra stress on the heart, which in extreme cases can lead to cardiac arrest and even death.
Lungs – Smoking reduces lung capacity as the tar produced by cigarettes coats the inside of the lungs. As smokers will be able to testify, smoking also produces phlegm which can cause the lungs and throat to feel congested. Decreased lung capacity reduces the bodies ability to provide the extra oxygen needed during exercise.
Vaping and Exercise – What are the Effects?
Vaping is still relatively new, and therefore long term studies haven't yet been completed that give us definitive answers on the effects of vaping on exercise. If you want to ensure your athletic performance isn't impeded in any way, then the best advice is not to smoke or vape. However, if you are a vaper and would like to continue while exercising then there are some positive signs;
Blood – E-liquids don't contain carbon monoxide, which is one of smoking's key contributing factors towards narrowing the arteries. They do though contain Nicotine, which is also known to reduce blood flow in smokers. However, a recent study has shown that smokers who switch to vaping showed improved blood flow after just one month. This means that extra oxygen can reach the heart, muscles and brain during periods of exercise.
Heart – Like cigarettes, E-liquids generally contain Nicotine, and it's this that causes the spike in heart rate. Unlike cigarettes, which deliver a set dose of Nicotine, with vaping, the user can decide how much Nicotine they ingest. E-liquids are available in a range of Nicotine levels from 18mg to 0mg, which allows vapers to taper down their nicotine levels over time.
Lungs – Vaping does not produce any tar, so the lungs do not get the nasty build-up associated with smoking. With vaping the lung capacity isn't affected, allowing them to take in increased amounts of oxygen during the exercise.
Vaping and Exercise Summary
The purpose of vaping is to quit smoking, so if you wish to exercise, then the best course of action for your health is not to smoke or vape. However, if you are an ex-smoker who is now vaping or are thinking of quitting smoking using e-cigs, then vaping and exercise is a far healthier combination than smoking and doing nothing.