For decades, tobacco use has been the number one cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 40 million adults in the United States smoke cigarettes. In the state of Georgia, about 17.7 percent of adults reported smoking regularly. This leads to about 11,700 deaths from smoking-related illnesses per year. However, even when you fully commit to quitting, giving up cigarettes can be a major challenge. For some people, traditional methods of quitting just don’t work. More than ever, Americans are considering complementary and alternative health approaches to quitting smoking. Read on to learn more about some of these options and how you can incorporate them into your own strategy for quitting smoking.
The Benefits of Yoga for Smoking Cessation
These days, many people who are trying to quit smoking are turning to yoga. Yoga supports both physical and mental health through a combination of exercise, mindful breathing, and meditation — all of which may help with quitting smoking. Indeed, there are several scientific research studies that have demonstrated some of the benefits of yoga for individuals who are trying to quit smoking.
In a pilot study from 2012 that was published in the Journal of Women’s Health, 55 study participants were randomly assigned to a twice-weekly program of either Vinyasa yoga or general wellness education. Both groups also received cognitive behavioral therapy. After eight weeks, the researchers found that 41 percent of the women in the yoga group achieved seven-day smoking abstinence, as compared to only 13 percent of the women in the general wellness group — a statistically significant difference. After 3 and 6 months, the proportion of women in the yoga group who achieved smoking abstinence continued to be higher than the proportion of women in the general wellness education group. This study, although preliminary, suggests that doing yoga on a regular basis may be a valuable strategy for quitting smoking.
In 2013, another study asked the question of whether or not yogic breathing exercises could help reduce nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms in individuals who were trying to quit smoking. In this study of 96 participants, regular smokers were asked to abstain from smoking for 12 hours prior to their visit to the research site. When they arrived, they were randomly assigned to one of two possible interventions: a series of yogic breathing exercises or a video control. The results indicated that all measures of smoking cravings — including the strength of urges, cigarette cravings, and desire to smoke — were reduced in the individuals who did the yogic breathing exercises, as compared to those who watched the control video.
Considering Thai Massage as an Alternative to Yoga
Still, you might be thinking — yoga is hard. You might find yourself in a yoga class at the gym, feeling foolish as you try to contort your body into the proper poses. You might be get so caught up in worrying about what other people think of your futile attempts at tree pose that you forget to breathe, so you lose out some of the key benefits of yoga for smoking cessation — not to mention your sense of dignity. All of this can make it challenging to stick to a regular yoga schedule — after all, finding the motivation to quit smoking is hard enough!
If you find yourself dreading the prospect of rolling out your yoga mat for another frustrating class, one option you may want to consider is Thai Massage. Essentially, Thai Massage is a gentle yoga session that is guided by a massage therapist. The massage therapist guides your body through each pose, so you don’t have to worry about getting it right by yourself. All you have to do is relax and breathe.
How Self-Massage Can Help You Quit Smoking
There is also research-backed evidence suggesting that self-massage can help combat withdrawal symptoms in smokers. In one study, twenty adult male smokers were recruited to participate. Half were taught to conduct hand or ear self massage when they experienced smoking cravings, three times a day for one month. The other half served as a control group. After the study, the massage group reported lower anxiety levels, improved mood, fewer withdrawal symptoms, and fewer cigarettes per day.
Even though the sample size is relatively small, this study provides preliminary evidence that self-massage can help you quit smoking. A trained massage therapist can help you learn the most effective self-massage techniques for quitting smoking. Case studies also show that other types of massage can provide similar benefits, so a trip to the massage therapist is a great idea for any smoker who is determine to quit.
Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness offers multiple massage modalities that may be helpful for smokers who are looking to use comprehensive and alternative health strategies to kick the habit for good. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!