10 health benefits of stopping smoking

Smoking is bad for your health, but exactly how will stopping make life better? Here are 10 ways your health will improve when you stop smoking.

The quitting timeline

  • After 20 minutes your blood pressure and pulse return to normal.
  • After 24 hours your lungs start to clear.
  • After two days your body is nicotine-free and your sense of taste and smell improve.
  • After three days you can breathe more easily, and your energy increases.
  • After two to 12 weeks, your circulation improves.
  • After three to nine months coughs, wheezing and breathing improves.
  • After one year your heart attack risk is half that of a smoker.
  • After 10 years your lung cancer risk is half that of a smoker.

Stopping smoking lets you breathe more easily

People breathe more easily and cough less when they give up smoking because their lung capacity improves by up to 10% within nine months.

In your 20s and 30s, the effect of smoking on your lung capacity may not be noticeable until you go for a run, but lung capacity naturally diminishes with age.

In later years, having maximum lung capacity can mean the difference between having an active, healthy old age and wheezing when you go for a walk or climb the stairs.

Stop smoking gives you more energy

Within 2 to 12 weeks of stopping smoking your blood circulation improves. This makes all physical activity, including walking and running, much easier.

You will also give a boost to your immune system, making it easier to fight off colds and flu. The increase in oxygen in the body can also reduce tiredness and the likelihood of headaches.

Read these self-help tips to fight fatigue.

Ditch the cigarettes and feel less stressed

The withdrawal from nicotine between cigarettes can heighten feelings of stress. As the stress of withdrawal feels the same as other stresses, it's easy to confuse normal stress with nicotine withdrawal.  So, it can seem like smoking is reducing other stresses whereas this is not the case.

In fact, scientific studies show people's stress levels are lower after they stop smoking.

If you're finding that you are prone to stress, then replacing smoking with a healthier, better way of dealing with stress can give you some real benefits.

Read our top 10 stress busters to find out more.

Quitting leads to better sex

Stopping smoking improves the body's blood flow so improves sensitivity.

Men who stop smoking may get better erections. Women may find their orgasms improve and they become aroused more easily.

It's also been found that non-smokers are three times more appealling to prospective partners than smokers.

Find out more tips for having good sex.

Stopping smoking improves fertility

Non-smokers find it easier to get pregnant. Quitting smoking improves the lining of the womb and can make men's sperm more potent.

Becoming a non-smoker increases the possibility of conceiving through IVF, and reduces the likelihood of having a miscarriage.

Most importantly, it improves the chances of giving birth to a healthy baby.

Read more about how to protect your fertility.

Stopping smoking improves smell and taste

When you stop smoking, your senses of smell and taste get a boost. You may notice that food tastes and smells different as your mouth and nose recover from being dulled by the hundreds of toxic chemicals found in cigarettes.

Stop smoking for younger-looking skin

Stopping smoking has been found to slow facial ageing and delay the appearance of wrinkles.

The skin of a non-smoker gets more nutrients, including oxygen, and stopping smoking can reverse the sallow, lined complexion smokers often have.

Watch this video to find out how smoking can ruin your looks.

Ex-smokers have whiter teeth and sweeter breath

Giving up tobacco stops teeth becoming stained, and you'll have fresher breath. Ex-smokers are also less likely than smokers to get gum disease and lose their teeth prematurely.

Find out more about dental health and teeth whitening.

Read about how stopping smoking helps banish bad breath.

Quit smoking to live longer

Half of all long-term smokers die early from smoking-related diseases, including heart disease, lung cancer and chronic bronchitis.

Men who quit smoking by the age of 30 add 10 years to their life. People who kick the habit at 60 add three years to their life.

In other words, it's never too late to benefit from stopping. Being smoke-free not only adds years to your life, but also greatly improves your chances of a disease-free, mobile, happier old age.

A smoke-free homes protects your loved ones

By stopping smoking, you'll be protecting the health of your non-smoking friends and family, too.

Breathing in secondhand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. In children it doubles the risk of getting chest illnesses, including pneumonia, ear infections, wheezing and asthma.

They also have three times the risk of getting lung cancer in later life compared with children who live with non-smokers.

Read more about the dangers of passive smoking.

Now, read about the stop smoking treatments available on the NHS and find out how to get started with stopping smoking.

Page last reviewed: 16/01/2016

Next review due: 16/01/2018

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