January 18, 2016 7:35 pm
Updated: January 18, 2016 7:41 pm

‘Run to Quit’ program helps smokers trade nicotine for runner’s high

WATCH ABOVE: A new running program aims to extinguish nicotine habits. Global’s Alexa Maclean reports.

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Smoking is a daily, and often deadly, habit for thousands of Nova Scotians, but a new program wants to help people replace their nicotine addiction with a healthier alternative.

The Canadian Cancer Society is partnering with The Running Room to launch a nationwide program called Run to Quit in April.

READ MORE: Why smoking is especially bad for men, their health and genetics

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Barbara Stead-Coyle, the Nova Scotia CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society, said the program is a great approach to the quitting smoking.

“What we do is we start to replace the unhealthy habit of smoking with the healthy habit of running,” she said.

“The physical activity actually curbs the need for nicotine. It stops weight gain, which is also another barrier as to why sometimes people don’t want to quit smoking, and you’re becoming healthy.”

About 37,000 Canadians die every year from smoking, a number Run to Quit is aiming to reduce.

The program is debuting in six provinces following a successful pilot study in Ottawa.

RELATED: How smoking in movies drives kids to become smokers

“The research is clear. Smoking kills Canadians and we know that about 30 percent of all cancer deaths attributable to smoking,” Stead-Coyle said.

Bruce Bowen, manager of The Running Room in Halifax, said running is a well-known stress reliever. He said that’s important because stress can be a barrier to quitting smoking, or cause a relapse for people who are trying to quit.

He said the company’s president, John Stanton, used to smoke two packs a day, but traded the habit for running.

For people who are considering joining but are unsure about running, Bowen said there’s no reason to fear it.

“People are here to encourage you because you’re trying to make a commitment to change your lifestyle,” he said.

Getting support from a group can greatly increase the odds of overcoming the addiction to nicotine, Stead-Coyle said.

“It’s a very, very, powerful drug and we know that the withdrawal symptoms are significant, so having that support is really important for success.”

There are three ways to join the program: by signing up online for a virtual course, committing to run a 5- or 10-kilometre event, or showing up in person under the guidance of a coach.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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