7 Ways to Take Back Your Health After You Quit Smoking

So you quit smoking—congrats! You've already done one of the best things possible for your body. Now it's time to take back your health, working to reverse the long terms effects your old habit has on your life. Here's everything you need to know about caring for your body after you quit for good.

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Break up with smoking for good

If you’ve cut back from a pack a day smoker to a one cigarette a day smoker, that’s a great start. But try to kick the habit toe the corner once and for all. “It is never too late to stop smoking,” encourages Alex Foxman, MD, FACP, of the Beverly Hills Institute. “Although, the sooner in life you stop, the better over all physical outcomes you will have.” Research has found that, simply by quitting smoking, individuals can reduce their risk of lung cancer to a non smokers risks within ten years of quitting. Need more motivation? Here are 15 ways your body heals itself when you quit smoking.


Manage your stress

For some, the stressors in their life can act as a trigger to return to old habits like smoking cigarettes, according to Dr. Foxman. Taking charge of your health after you quit will require you to pay attention to stress levels, finding creative ways to stay calm under pressure if you want to avoid picking up smoking again. Here are some of the best stress management tips you’ve ever read.


Exercise daily

Daily exercise is a foundation of a healthy life, especially for ex-smokers. “Exercise at least 30 minutes daily,” says Dr. Foxman. If you are having trouble creating a daily exercise habit, remember that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Any type of cardiovascular exercise for at least 30 minutes daily has a significant effect on a person’s cardiovascular system, according to Dr. Foxman. “Even walking significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, which leads to heart attacks and strokes.” He also noted that exercise is a great way to manage stress, too, so it’s a win-win.

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Eat lots of fruit and veggies

Of course, eating well is an important part of any healthy lifestyle but certain foods many be more beneficial for former smokers than others. “Foods high in antioxidants reduce inflammation and damage at a cellular level, which can assist in repairing the injured tissue from tobacco use,” Dr. Foxman says. Foods with high levels of antioxidants include fruits like blueberries, red and purple grapes and red berries, dark leafy greens, and sweet potatoes, as well as nuts, tea, and whole grains. Here are 30 cancer-fighting foods to add to your diet.


Practice meditation

Since stress reduction is so vital to the future of your health as a former smoking, adopting habits known to reduce stress can be an important part of your plan to take back your health. “Meditating five to 10 minutes daily can have a very positive result both mentally and physically,” shares Dr. Foxman. If you aren’t sure how to get started, consider using guided meditation resources like these free guided meditations put together by the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center or try these mini meditations to banish stress from your brain.


Have regular health screenings

As a former smoker, your annual health screenings are important to watching carefully for any health problems that may develop. Early intervention can make a big difference in the future of someone who has been diagnosed with a serious health condition. If you have quit smoking and want to closely monitor your health, Dr. Foxman suggests meeting with a physician for an annual physical check-up, blood work evaluation, and perhaps even an annual CT scan.


Get plenty of sleep

Smoking has been found to be associated with sleep disturbances and poor sleep has long been linked to health problems including heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Research suggests nicotine withdrawal may be to blame for smokers’ poor sleep quality. Now that you have quit, make sure you practice good sleep habits, including getting to bed early enough to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night and avoiding using electronics while in bed.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest