You’ll be pleased to hear that just 20 minutes after you stub out your last cigarette, your body will start to recover and your health will start to improve. Depending on how much and how long you’ve been smoking, you may experience some physical withdrawal symptoms when you first stop smoking including; headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea and coughing.
However, it’s worth pushing through this difficult period because these symptoms are temporary and will soon start to fade; when you start noticing the benefits you will wonder why you waited so long to quit.
The short term health benefits of quitting smoking
Within 20 minutes your heart rate will drop to normal levels.
Within 2 hours your blood pressure will have returned to normal levels and your peripheral circulation may improve. When your circulation is a healthy level, your fingers and toes will start to warm up.
Within 12 hours the carbon monoxide levels in your blood will decrease and your oxygen levels will raise to near normal levels.
Within 24 hours the risk of heart attack begins to decrease. Any anxiety associated with giving up will have peaked in intensity and should start to decline.
Within 48 hours your nerve endings begin to regrow and your sense of smell and taste will begin to increase.
Within three days the nicotine levels in your system will have depleted.
Within three weeks regenerative processes take place in your body, including lung capacity and performance and circulation. This will improve your performance in physical exercise.
Within two and twelve weeks your ability to heal from any injury and illness will speed up significantly as your immune system recovers.
Between one and nine months your lungs will begin to repair themselves and the little hair-like projections in the airways that we call cilia begin to work again, increasing lung function and performance and reducing the risk of infection. You may find that until this time, you actually cough more than when you were smoking – this is the lungs cleaning themselves out.
The long term health benefits of quitting smoking
After one year your overall risk of coronary heart disease decreases by half.
Between five and 15 years the chance of having a stroke decreases to that of an average non-smoker. Smoking narrows your blood vessels which hinder the blood circulation to your brain.
After 10 years the risk of lung, throat and mouth cancer decreases by half that of a smoker.
Within 15 years of quitting smoking your risk of heart disease is no greater than a non-smoker, and your risk of other cardiac issues, like arrhythmia and angina, drop to normal levels too.
How your physical appearance improves when you stop smoking
Quitting smoking will brighten your smile
Most changes to your mouth during smoking are reversible, including bad breath and yellowed teeth. Once you kick the habit the stains on your teeth will fade, you’ll also be at a much lower risk of gum recession and periodontal disease. Plus your lips will look better as you’re less likely to get mouth sores.
Your skin will look more youthful
The thousands of chemicals in cigarette smoke can breakdown the major structural components of the skin – elastin and collagen. When these components are damaged, your skin loses its firmness, elasticity and strength.
Nicotine also narrows your blood vessels which limits the blood flow to your skin and causes creasing and dullness. Quitting smoking will keep you from aging prematurely, especially in the crow’s feet areas under and around your eyes.
The appearance of your hands will improve
Your hands are one of the first areas of your body to show damage from sun exposure, age and free radicals. Once you’ve stopped smoking you’ll notice a marked difference in your hands. The yellowish stains on your fingertips will fade over time and your nails will regrow, eradicating any stains.
Your hair will look better
The chemicals in cigarettes affect every part of your body, including your hair follicles, which can make you shed more hair than a non-smoker. When you quit smoking and your blood circulation improves, your hair will look fuller and shinier and it’ll finally stop smelling of ash.
On average, non-smokers live 14-15 years longer than those who smoke cigarettes. The sooner you quit, the quicker your body will start to heal. What are you waiting for – it’s a no-brainer!
For more information read our post on why vaping is better for your health