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Effects of smoking on athletes

Effects of smoking on athletes


Fri May 16, 2014

by Dr. Perry de Freitas M.D.

– for World No Tobacco Day

Smoking has been around for many years. It has been used for varied reasons: to help lose or maintain weight, to help keep one warm in cold environments, to reduce appetite, to make one feel good by getting a ‘high’ and some even think it can improve one’s athletic performance.{{more}}

Today, smoking is considered an antisocial behaviour to many people, thus affecting how people relate socially.

The act of smoking has many deleterious effects on the body, which adversely affect the performance of athletes. Plus, it does not matter what you smoke and how you smoke it, for second-hand smoking is as dangerous, if not more dangerous than first-hand smoking.

Smoking damages the lung tissues themselves. The damaged lung tissues cause less oxygen from the air to get into the blood. As the lung tissues get damaged, the mechanical function of the lung, that is the expansion and closing of the lung, reduces, also causing smaller exchange of oxygen into the bloodstream.

All of the muscles need oxygen to function properly; thus, with less oxygen in the blood because of the damaged lungs, athletes cannot attain their full athletic potential, plus they are more prone to get injuries. Less oxygen in the blood would also affect the function of the brain in a negative way, which is the ability to concentrate and reason is reduced and as such affects athletic performance negatively.

Many athletes who smoke regularly tend to experience muscle aches and pains more commonly, as smoking also causes constriction (tightening) of the blood vessels, thus further reducing the amount of oxygen to the muscle and organ tissues and causing a reduction in the athletic abilities.

Other health causes as a result of smoking include lip cancer, tongue cancers, throat cancers and lung cancers. Any one of these can happen to any athlete who smokes regularly.

Regardless of the form of smoking, be it cigarettes, cigars, pipes, ‘weed’, burnt garbage, barbecue smoke, vehicle smoke, heavily polluted atmosphere, all can cause a reduction in one’s physical and mental abilities. This is a good time to quit smoking.