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Good Housekeeping
Belle Yambao, Contributor
September 30, 2011

New Study: Teen Smokers More Likely to Quit If They Exercise

Research shows combining physical activity with your teen's no-smoking plan can increase his chances of quitting. By Belle Yambao
teens_stop_smoking_playing_sports.jpgNeed help getting your teen to quit smoking? The results of a new study published in Pediatrics show that teen smokers who exercise as they undergo a quitting program are more likely to kick the habit than those who join the program alone.

The researchers from West Virginia University studied 233 smokers aged 14 to 19 and divided them into three groups. The first group attended a one-time "Stop Smoking" session, the second a 10-week quitting program called Not On Tobacco (NOT), and the last got a combination of NOT and fitness pointers. The results showed that 14 percent of teens in the last group were able to quit. Meanwhile, only 5 percent of those who went to the single session and 11 percent of the NOT attendees reported similar progress.

The fitness pointers were actually just an extra five-minute lecture during NOT, which explained to the teens what good things physical activity could do for their health. Any exercise they did after that was their own initiative and not the product of actual fitness training. Kimberly Horne, community medicine professor at West Virginia University and lead author of the study, says this is good news. "Even a small amount of time spent by facilitators, teachers, and counselors in motivating kids toward increased physical activity may have pretty significant impacts on health and health economics," she is quoted as saying on

The effect of exercise was more pronounced in males as almost 24 percent of the boys in the combination group were able to quit, whereas more girls were successful using just the NOT program. Horne says there's no explanation for this difference between the two genders yet, but one avenue they're exploring is how boys are more likely to participate in physical activities or sports than girls are.

So if you're motivating your teen to quit smoking, FNites, make sure to include a pep talk about fitness and exercise too (and, yes, this works for both girls and boys). Your simple piece of advice could become a turning point for your teen if you do it constantly in an encouraging manner.

Need more advice for handling your teens? Check out these articles:

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