Effect of brief exercise on urges to smoke in men and women smokers

Alicia M. Allen, Nermine M. Abdelwahab, Samantha Carlson, Tyler A. Bosch, Lynn E. Eberly, Kola Okuyemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction Although smoking urges have been demonstrated to vary by gender and also be influenced by exercise, it is unknown if exercise has a differential effect on smoking urges by gender. This study aimed to explore gender-specific effects of an acute bout of exercise on cessation-related symptoms in men and women smokers during acute abstinence. Methods We enrolled smokers (≥ 5 cigarettes/day) who were 18–40 years old for a study on exercise and smoking behavior. Participants abstained from smoking for at least 3 h, prior to measurement of their maximal oxygen consumption tested, which was the acute bout of exercise. Prior to and after the exercise, participants completed the Questionnaire of Smoking Urges – Brief and the Minnesota Nicotine Withdrawal Scale. Results Participants (n = 38; 61% women) were, on average, 30.0 ± 0.9 years old and smoked 13.0 ± 0.8 cigarettes/day. All measured aspects of cessation-related symptoms significantly improved after the exercise in both men and women. In women there was a significant decline in anticipated relief from negative affect after the exercise (women: − 0.45 ± 0.20, p = 0.0322; men: − 0.41 ± 0.26, p = 0.1312). In men there was a significant decline in the intention to smoke after the exercise (men: − 0.77 ± 0.23, p = 0.0053; women: − 0.66 ± 0.37, p = 0.0909). Conclusions An acute bout of exercise reduced smoking urges in both men and women smokers during an acute state of abstinence. Additional research is needed to replicate these observations in a larger, more diverse sample, and to explore the implication of these observations on cessation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-37
Number of pages4
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this project was provided by ClearWay Minnesota (RC-2015-0004), the University of Minnesota Foundation and the Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health Grant (BIRCWH K12HD055887; A. Allen) from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the Office of Research on Women's Health, and the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, administered by the University of Minnesota Deborah E. Powell Center for Women's Health. Support was also provided by Research Services in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Medical School, University of Minnesota (S. Carlson) and University of Minnesota Foundation (N. Abdelwahab). This publication was also supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health Award Number UL1TR000114. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or University of Minnesota. These funding sources had no role in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of data, writing the manuscript or the decision to submit the paper for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Craving
  • Exercise
  • Gender
  • Smoking urges

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