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#Stoptober with Ann Gates from @exerciseworks

Exercise and smoking cessation

How to get started!

Smokers who exercise regularly are more likely to stop smoking, remain smoke-free, live longer and reduce their risks of other diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis and poor mental health than those who try stopping and do not have an active lifestyle. Regular exercise has been shown to acutely reduce cigarette cravings. Smoking cessation services are effective in helping you stop smoking, so ask your doctor or healthcare professional for a referral for support and advice on how to stop smoking. An exercise training plan, as part of the smoking cessation services, may more than double the likelihood of you not smoking after 12 months. Regular exercise also helps reduce depression, stress, anxiety and helps improve low mood.

Heart-healthy exercise combined with strength, flexibility and balance exercises can help you maintain a healthy weight, help prevent obesity and keep your bones and joints healthy. Smoking increases the risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture, so strength and balance exercises are especially important to help you improve and maintain your bone health.

Inactivity has been shown to increase the risk of diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, so cut down the time you spend in front of the television and computer. Physical inactivity may be as dangerous for the heart as smoking a packet of cigarettes every dayso it’s important to increase your daily physical activity plan. Any type of regular physical activity is beneficial, especially brisk walking daily. Choose activities that you enjoy, can do with friends or family and fit into your life—there is a wide range to choose from!

If you have long-term health problems, discuss the most suitable ways to exercise with your doctor or healthcare provider to maximise your health benefits.

Take all medicines as recommended by your doctor or pharmacist.

Warm up and cool down

Always start your exercise session with a 10-15-minute warm up to loosen up the muscles and raise the heart rate safely. Warm-up exercises include simple stretches, range-of-motion activities and beginning the activity at a low intensity. They can be done standing up, walking around, marching on the spot or seated.


Always end your exercise session with a 10–15-minute cool down to ensure your heart rate and breathing return to normal safely. Cool-down exercises include simple stretches and slowly decreasing the intensity of your activity. You should feel relaxed but energised after exercise!

The exercises!

Try walking more and sitting less!

Heart-healthy exercises – get your heart rate up!

How often:

Aim to exercise at least 5 days a week. If your fitness level is low, start with 23 times a week. Add more weekly sessions as your strength and stamina increase.

How hard:

Moderate to vigorous intensity—aim to get slightly breathless. If your fitness level is low, start gently and build up the intensity of your workout over time.

How long:

At least 30 minutes per session or 150 minutes in total per week. If your fitness level is low, start with 10 minutes and build up the duration by 10 minutes per session. Even short bursts of exercise are beneficial to your health—3 ×10 minute activity sessions can greatly improve your heart health.


Try walking, cycling, swimming, jogging, running, dancing and a variety of sports or leisure activities. Choose to get active as part of daily lifetake the stairs more and sit less!

What will it do for me?

Heart-healthy exercise helps you stop smoking. It also helps you maintain a healthy weight and reduces anxiety, depression, low mood and stress.

 Strength exercises – use your muscles!

How often:

Twice a week.

How hard:

Start with light weights or resistance exercises.

How many:

Choose a variety of 8-10 exercises targeting the upper and lower body, and repeat each exercise 10-15 times. Try 1-3 sets of each exercise.


Try free weights, resistance training or join a circuit class. Use your own body weight, dumbbells, bars or gym equipment. At home, try push-ups (floor or wall), squats, calf raises, arm curls, front arm raises, side arm raises, chair stands and knee curls. Use weights or a household item such as a water bottle. Recreational and social activities, such as ball games, improve strength and agility.

What will it do for me?

Regular strength training helps improve bone, muscle and joint health. It also helps you maintain a healthy weight and gain self-confidence and self-esteem.

Flexibility exercises – stretch!

How often:

Twice a week.

How many:

Try 8-10 stretch exercises using the upper and lower body.

How long:

Hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds.


Try Tai Chi, yoga, Pilates, swimming, certain martial arts or gentle home stretch exercises.

What will it do for me?

Regular stretch exercises are effective for reducing anxiety and enhancing relaxation. They also help promote and maintain bone, muscle and joint health.

Balance exercises – move with confidence!

How often:

Twice a week. Start with one session per week, if necessary, and gradually work towards two.

How many:

Choose 2-3 balance exercises and repeat each exercise 10-15 times.

How long:

Hold each balance for 10-30 seconds.


Try yoga, Tai Chi or home balance exercises. If you are at high risk of falling, do seated balance exercises and progress to standing exercises when you have gained strength and confidence.

What will it do for me?

Practising balance exercises helps to train your body to react more quickly to impending balance loss.

Your exercise, your way!

Choose activities that are easy to start with and that you enjoy. Exercise with friends and family, join a group class or ask about exercise support from the smoking cessation service. Try exercising both indoors and outdoors and see which you prefer!

Exercise safety

Ask your doctor or contact your local smoking cessation services on how to exercise safely and how to maintain an exercise plan.

  1. Aim to get slightly out of breath, but exercise sensibly and stop the activity if you feel unwell.
  2. Always wear comfortable clothing and shoes that give good support. Take frequent breaks if necessary, and drink water before, during and after exercise.

Copyright on all materials and design by @exerciseworks Exercise-Works Limited. 2012.


Breaking news: NICE provides new guidance on cost effectiveness of exercise referral

The United Kingdom's, National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has just released key recommendations for health care commissioners, providers and professionals on exercise referral schemes.

The 3 key recommendations can be summarised as:

1. Policy makers and commissioners should not fund exercise referral schemes      for people who are sedentary or inactive but otherwise apparently healthy.

Primary care practitioners should not refer people who are sedentary or inactive, but otherwise  apparently healthy, to exercise referral schemes.

2. Policy makers and commissioners should only fund exercise referral schemes for people who are sedentary or inactive and have existing health conditions or other factors that put them at increased risk of ill health if the scheme:

Incorporates the core techniques outlined in recommendations of 'Behaviour change: individual approaches' NICE public health guidance 49. This includes: 

    • recognising when people may or may not be more open to change agreeing goals and developing action plans to help change behaviour 

    • advising on and arranging social support tailoring behaviour change techniques and interventions to individual need

    • monitoring progress and providing feedback 

    • developing coping plans to prevent relapse 

  • Collects data in line with the 'essential criteria' outlined in the Standard Evaluation Framework for physical activity interventions. Specifically: programme details, evaluation details, demographics of individual participants, baseline data, follow-up data (impact evaluation) and process evaluation.

  • Makes the data collected available for analysis, monitoring and research to inform future practice.

  • Primary care practitioners should only refer people who are sedentary or inactive and have existinghealth conditions or other factors[1] that put them at increased risk of ill health to an exercise referral scheme if it conforms to the above criteria.

3. Public Health England should develop and manage a system to collate local data on exercise referral schemes. This system should:

Our comment:

These stricter criteria can only improve and drive better standards in access and standards within the exercise referral schemes. Whilst many patients who are unfit, sedentary, inactive but otherwise healthy are no longer recommended for being referred to the schemes, this does mean that many more patients with long term diseases and health conditions can now be actively recruited from primary care into local exercise referral schemes.

This new guidance points out that the NICE guidance PH44 is considered to provide the best health economic methods of supporting patients to take daily exercise. We have always and will continue to endorse brief intervention as the best way of promoting physical activity within both primary and secondary health care populations!

By Ann Gates, Founder of Exercise Works!


Save Bont playing field via @SaveBontField

We want to save school fields for future generations to play their sports and follow their dreams!


It’s no real news, unless you’re an out of touch politician. The children and young people in our society need land in their communities where they can practice their sports, play sports in team events and where they can play with their friends. It’s something we’ve all taken for granted as adults in the past; the right to play and enjoy the freedom that is lush green fields to keep us fit and healthy. 

The City and County of Swansea Council in Swansea have proposed the sale of land at many of its primary and secondary schools in Swansea. We can’t speak for all of them, but as a community in Pontarddulais we’ve established an organised committee of parents, school governors, local business owners, sports club representatives and local people who are concerned about the health and wellbeing of future generations in Pontarddulais and those who are current pupils’ at Pontarddulais Primary School. 

The school land in used day-in and day-out. The field is used for football, rugby, athletic sports and as a place to discover nature. The field is a terrific resource and is an asset to the pupils and teachers who use it for their lessons to benefit the children and young people who attend the school. It’s also a vital facility for the local community who use it for sport and in the school holidays when an organisation use it to run a holiday club for children from the locality to keep up with their play and fitness whilst on a school break. 

Without sport and fitness in school, what would we be? The school boasts ex-pupils who have gone on the represent Wales at national and international levels. This is because the ex-pupils of Pontarddulais Primary School have been given the opportunities that the council are trying to take away. Why should the pupils’ of tomorrow have their dreams of a career in sport smashed to smithereens when the financial mistakes that have been made did not involve them? 

We live in a society where we’re advised to eat healthily, exercise more and participate in sport. We also live in a society where childhood obesity is at a dangerous high and this statistic is continuing to grow as you read this blog. 

Play and exercise are proven to improve the lives of children. If children and young people do not currently get enough exercise at home, surely we should be encouraging this more at school? 

Our message is clear. We want to keep the land at our school in Pontarddulais. We are shocked that the City and County of Swansea Council describe the land as ‘surplus’ as the school teacher’s, pupils and community member’s work hard to make use of it every day. 

Pontarddulais Sport & Recreation Committee @savebontfield

Blog Moderated by Ann Gates MRPharmS, Founder of Exercise Works!