Getting healthy is not just about losing weight or getting fit. Quitting smoking and getting your lung health in check are other resolutions that can better your health. It may seem like another improbable goal, but you can do it!
The Seven Things You Can Do to Quit Smoking
Give up one cigarette at a time
- Pay attention to the times that you find yourself smoking each day, such as your after-lunch smoke break. Once you’ve identified the times you’re most likely to smoke, make a plan to slowly cut back.
Start medication, nicotine gum or a patch
- Prescription drugs have been shown to help smokers quit. Although there are many kinds of drugs, some may be more helpful than others. Be sure to discuss any medications with your physician.
Switch out your cigarette break for gum or a walk
- Create a lunchtime walking group with coworkers who are also trying to quit. Alternatively, keep a pack of gum at your desk for whenever you have a craving.
- Exercise regularly and start doing activities you enjoy to take your mind off smoking. Exercise can also boost your endorphins and give you a little pick-me-up. Try to get 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.
- A healthy diet and lifestyle choices can reduce rates of lung and other cancers. Additionally, some foods can help make cigarettes taste bad.
Join a support group
- Smokers have a much better chance of quitting with some accountability and help around them. You can find a support group near you here.
Stop smoking while driving
- Start by removing the ashtray, lighter and cigarettes from your car. Clean your car and use deodorizers to reduce the smell of tobacco. While driving, find something to do to keep you occupied, like listening to music or taking an alternate route to work.
Consider a Lung Cancer Screening
Both present and former long-term, heavy smokers should also consider getting a lung cancer screening. This is a good resolution for those who are older than 55 and have no cancer history, but have a pack a day or more smoking history.
While the idea of a lung screening can be daunting, this simple, low-dose CT gives you the ability to take the first step in safeguarding your health. It can discover cancer early, in its most treatable stage and prevent against more serious problems later in life. Research shows that more than 80 percent of lung cancers may be cured if they are detected early enough, and this is the only way to ensure early detection of the disease—other symptoms often show up too late.
Like exercise and dietary changes, smoking cessation also requires the support of your health care provider. Work with your physician to find support groups, medication options and to find out if you qualify for early detection screening.
If you do quit cold turkey, plan for any relapses.
Dr. Lynne A. Skaryak is a board-certified thoracic and general surgeon with Chesapeake Surgical Specialists. Dr. Skaryak is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. She has been involved in many multi-disciplinary thoracic oncology clinics and tumor boards for the most up-to-date care of patients. Her areas of expertise include malignancies of the lung, esophagus and chest wall. She is also experienced in minimally invasive pulmonary and esophageal surgery, endoscopic laser therapy and stent insertion, percutaneous tracheostomy, stereotactic radiosurgery and chest wall resections.