Aims: To assess the effectiveness of exercise-based interventions in smoking cessation.
Design: A systematic review was conducted of articles published between 1980 and 1999. The review focused on randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in which the specific effects of exercise on smoking abstinence were examined. The primary dependent variable was smoking abstinence. Other studies which had both exercise programming as an independent variable and smoking behaviour as a dependent variable are briefly discussed.
Participants: The review included interventions targeting both healthy individuals and those with specific medical conditions.
Settings: The interventions were delivered in both community and inpatient settings.
Measurements: Information extracted from each article included details of the participants, exercise and smoking cessation programmes, control conditions, exercise adherence rates, length of follow-up and outcomes.
Findings: Of the eight trials satisfying our inclusion criteria, only two trials found a positive effect for exercise on smoking abstinence. The others showed no effect.
Conclusions: There is some evidence for exercise aiding smoking cessation. Of the two trials finding a positive effect one was rigorously designed, the other was found to have numerous methodological limitations. Trials showing no effect lacked sensitivity. This was principally because of small sample sizes and inadequate measurement and control of exercise adherence. There is a need for more rigorously designed studies in this area.