A preliminary randomized controlled trial of a behavioral exercise intervention for smoking cessation

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Introduction: Previous exercise intervention studies for smoking cessation have been challenged by a number of methodological limitations that confound the potential efficacy of aerobic exercise for smoking cessation. Methods: The preliminary efficacy of a behavioral exercise intervention that incorporated features designed to address prior limitations was tested in a randomized controlled trial (RCT). Sixty-one smokers (65.6% female, mean age = 47.3 years; smoked a mean of 19.7 cigarettes/day) were randomized to receive either a 12-week exercise intervention OR a 12-week health education contact control. Participants in both conditions received an 8-week telephone-delivered, standard smoking cessation protocol (with the transdermal nicotine patch). Follow-ups were conducted at the end of treatment (EOT), 6-and 12-month timepoints. Results: There were no differences between conditions with respect to the number of weekly exercise or health education sessions attended (9.3 ± 2.8 vs. 9.3 ± 3.0, respectively). While not statistically significant, participants in the exercise condition demonstrated higher verified abstinence rates (EOT: 40% vs. 22.6%, odds ratio [OR] = 2.28; 6-and 12-month follow-ups: 26.7% vs. 12.9%, OR = 2.46). Irrespective of treatment condition, higher levels of moderate-to-vigorous exercise were associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms during the intervention. Conclusions: The results of this small RCT point toward the benefit of a behavioral exercise intervention, designed to address previous methodological limitations, for smoking cessation. Given the potential public health impact of the demonstrated efficacy of exercise for smoking cessation, the continued development and optimization of exercise interventions for smokers through larger RCTs merits pursuit. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco. All rights reserved.

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Nicotine and Tobacco Research