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Physical activity reduces cigarette cravings
  1. Timothy W Glass1,
  2. 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}

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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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  • Haasova M, Warren FC, Ussher M, et al. The acute effects of physical activity on cigarette cravings: systematic review and meta-analysis with individual participant data. Addiction 2013;108:26–37.

  • Contributors TWG selected the systematic review and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. TWG and CGM contributed to interpretation of the data and revision of the final version of the manuscript, and both are guarantors.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.