Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Harry Prapavessis


Cigarette smoking is a leading agent for premature morbidity and mortality among the global community. Most individuals surrender to tobacco use disorder due to the inability to cope with cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Exercise appears to provide acute relief. Currently, it is unclear how exercise attenuates these reductions. Furthermore, the available evidence has focused on acute outcomes besides smoking behaviour and is limited to simulated quit attempts. Three experimental studies were designed to address these outstanding issues. Not surprisingly, a bout of moderate intensity exercise was found in study 1 (chapter 2) to reduce cravings associated with a temporary period of nicotine deprivation compared to passive sitting. These reductions were mediated by positive and negative affect, but not cortisol. Using a randomized controlled trial design and a simulated quit attempt, study 2 (chapter 3) examined the effects of an acute bout of moderate intensity exercise on and interrelatedness among ad libitum smoking, smoking topography, affect, and tobacco withdrawal symptoms, with changes to cravings serving as a fidelity check. Results showed that exercise increased time to first puff but had a null effect on smoking topography. Exercise also alleviated cravings, affect, and tobacco withdrawal symptoms, which was related to smoking behaviour measures. The objective of study 3 (chapter 4) was to investigate the impact of a pre-quit period (i.e. forthcoming genuine quit attempt) during an exercise-aided smoking cessation program on cigarette consumption, expired carbon monoxide levels, smoking topography, and cigarette-related sensations. Reductions in number of cigarettes smoked, carbon monoxide, puff duration, smoking satisfaction, psychological reward, enjoyment of respiratory tract sensations, and craving, as well as an increase in average puff flow, were exhibited. Together, these three studies extend the extant literature by: ascertaining the mechanistic role of affect; corroborating the utility of a short bout of exercise for ad libitum smoking behaviour, cravings, affect, and withdrawal symptoms; and revealing that harm reducing changes in cigarette consumption were not coupled with compensatory behaviour, in fact, it favourably positioned smokers to optimize their quit attempt efforts. Without question, exercise plays a catalytic role in interrupting the tobacco use disorder.