Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2013-092525
  • PEDro systematic review update

Physical activity reduces cigarette cravings

  1. Christopher G Maher2
  1. 1Warwick Medical School, The University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  2. 2Musculoskeletal Division, The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Christopher G Maher, Musculoskeletal Division, The George Institute for Global Health, PO Box M201, Missenden Road, NSW 2050 Australia; cmaher{at}
  • Accepted 20 April 2013
  • Published Online First 25 May 2013


In the UK, over one-fifth of the adult population smokes. Many smokers (63%) wish to stop, but only 3–5% of unaided attempts are successful after 6–12 months and most people who stop smoking relapse within the first 8 days. Even with the best available pharmacological and behavioural support, lesser than 30% of smokers successfully stop.1–3 Physical activity (PA) is recommended as a smoking cessation aid.4 However, the evidence for the efficacy of PA in aiding cessation is limited.5


The aim of this systematic review and individual patient data (IPD) meta-analysis was to investigate the acute effects of short bouts of PA on cigarette craving.

Searches and inclusion criteria

Six electronic databases (SPORTDiscus, MEDLINE, PubMed, Web of Science, EMBASE and PsycINFO) were searched. The Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group specialised register, electronic theses and dissertations (ETD), Digital Library—Network Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD) and ProQuest Digital Dissertations were also searched. Search terms used were ‘smoking’ or ‘smoking cessation’, ‘exercise’ or ‘physical activity’ and ‘craving$’ or ‘withdrawal’. Relevant reference lists and meeting abstracts were hand searched. Eligible studies examined the acute effects of PA on the desire to smoke and/or strength of desire to smoke and included randomised crossover or parallel arm trials with a minimum abstinence period of 2 h prior to …

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