When is the best time to quit smoking?

Any time!

One of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States is cigarette smoking. Quitting can be quite a daunting task, but if you make the effort, you can benefit very quickly from being smoke-free.

From the moment after your last cigarette, these are the physical changes you will see:

  • 20 minutes: your heart rate returns to normal, your blood pressure begins to drop, and your circulation may begin to improve
  • 12 hours: excess carbon monoxide starts to clear from the body allowing the amount of oxygen in your blood to increase
  • 1 day: your risk for coronary artery disease and heart attack begin to decrease
  • 2 days: the nerves for smell and taste begin to heal and life begins to smell and taste more wonderful!
  • 3 days: all the nicotine finally leaves your body – this may create moodiness, irritability, headaches, and cravings as the body acclimates
  • 1 month: lung function begins to improve as the lungs heal. There should also be less coughing and shortness of breath and those athletic inclined should see an increase in endurance.
  • 1 year: your risk of heart disease will have decreased by half.
  • 5 years: smoking narrowed your arteries and blood vessels and increased the risk for developing blood clots. After 5 years, you’ve healed enough for the vessels to widen again, reducing the risk for clotting and stroke.
  • 10 years: the chance of developing lung cancer are cut in half compared to a smoker. The risk for other cancers like mouth, throat, or pancreatic significantly decline.
  • 15 years: congratulations! The likelihood of developing heart disease is equal to that of a non-smoker! Same with the risk of stroke!

These are just the physical benefits you will see, but there are additional benefits for your mental health and wellbeing too. Despite the common belief that smoking helps one to relax, it actually increases anxiety and tension. Symptoms of anxiety and depression often decrease after quitting smoking. Some report feeling calmer and more relaxed when they are no longer dependent on smoking.

Many people experience an increased quality of life and sense of personal satisfaction when they quit. As it is not an easy feat, there is a great sense of pride in accomplishing something so good for your health. There is also a financial gain since it is also a very expensive habit.

Smoking is harmful for your health. The great news is, the sooner you quit smoking, the faster you can reduce your risk for cancer, and heart and lung disease. Your body has an amazing ability to heal itself. Every year you pass without smoking increases your overall health so if you do smoke, the best time to quit smoking, is now.

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