Exercise facilitates smoking cessation indirectly via improvements in smoking-specific self-efficacy: Prospective cohort study among a national sample of young smokers

Prev Med. 2015 Dec;81:63-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.08.011. Epub 2015 Aug 21.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine whether exercise is associated with 2-year follow-up smoking status through its influence on smoking-specific self-efficacy.

Methods: Longitudinal data from the 2003-2005 National Youth Smoking Cessation Survey were used, including 1,228 participants (16-24 years). A questionnaire was used to examine baseline exercise levels, baseline smoking-specific self-efficacy, follow-up smoking status, and the covariates.

Results: Baseline exercise was associated with baseline self-efficacy (β=0.04, p<0.001) after adjusting for age category, sex, race-ethnicity, education, and nicotine dependence. Baseline self-efficacy, in turn, was associated with 2-year smoking status (β=0.23, p<0.001) after adjustments. There was no adjusted direct effect of baseline exercise on 2-year smoking status (β=0.001, p=0.95); however, the adjusted indirect effect of baseline self-efficacy on the relationship between exercise and 2-year smoking status was significant (β=0.008, bootstrapped lower and upper CI: 0.002-0.02; p<0.05). The mediation ratio was 0.837, which indicates that smoking-specific self-efficacy mediates 84% of the total effect of exercise on smoking status.

Conclusions: Among daily smokers, exercise may help to facilitate smoking cessation via exercise-induced increases in smoking-specific self-efficacy.

Keywords: Confidence; Nicotine dependence; Physical activity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / psychology
  • Young Adult