The specific benefits of aerobic exercises in smoking cessation are unclear, as they have different characteristics, intensities, and durations. The purpose of this systematic review with meta-analysis was to evaluate the effects of aerobic exercise, with or without co-interventions, compared with a control group of cognitive behavior treatment on smoking cessation.
This review was prospectively registered on PROSPERO, and the searches were performed from 2016 to 2018. Randomized controlled trials evaluating the effects of aerobic exercise, with or without nicotine therapy replacement, compared with usual care were included. The primary outcome was smoking cessation defined as the prevalence of those who quit or continuous abstinence. Meta-analysis was calculated using random effects model in the comprehensive meta-analysis software.
The authors identified 18 trials reporting data for a total of 2815 participants. There was moderate-quality evidence that aerobic exercise was better than usual care in promoting smoking cessation at short term (11 trials, risk ratio 0.79; 95% confidence interval, 0.66-0.94). However, there were no differences between aerobic exercises and usual care at medium- or long-term follow-ups.
According to review, aerobic exercise may be effective in promoting smoking cessation at short-term, but not at medium- and long-term follow-ups.