Exercise Helps in Quitting Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs

Substance abuse is the general term used to include the misuse of different substances such as tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs. Millions of people worldwide are affected, resulting in medical, personal, social and occupational problems. Although there are a wide variety of medicinal treatments available, they are not helpful for many people, which leaves a gap in treatment options. This void is effectively filled by alternative therapies, one of which is aerobic exercise training.1, 2

Exercise has been helpful as an adjuvant to the treatment of substance abuse with medications. It helps the individual to focus more upon healthier aspects of life and is useful in breaking the habit of smoking among habitual smokers. A mere 30 minutes of aerobic exercise training for three times a week has helped numerous addicted individuals to quit smoking. In general, aerobic exercise training has a wide variety of advantages for the different organ systems, such as improving their blood flow and increasing their efficiency. Regular exercise causes improved release of dopamine, a brain chemical that has been associated with mood improvements and relief from depression. Exercising helps people to form positive attitudes and to realize that they can improve performance in different aspects of life by quitting bad habits.2, 3

A similar effect has been observed in individuals addicted to alcohol and drugs who are willing to quit. Medications along with aerobic exercises have been advised as a helpful method in such individuals. Exercise and recreational activities are quite useful in preventing the formation of unhealthy habits such as substance abuse. This is especially true in the case of teenagers and young adults. Different studies and research have substantiated this fact and exercise is being promoted as one of the modes in numerous training, health projects and programs followed by the governments of many countries. A regular work out schedule at different intensities has effectively prevented many youths from falling prey to harmful habits such as substance abuse.3,4


  1. Shephard RJ. Exercise and Relaxation in Health Promotion. Sports Med. 1997; 23(4): 211–227.
  2. Scott P, Marlow RRT et al. Smoking Cessation. Respir Care. 2003; 48(12): 1238–1254.
  3. Jain A. Treating Nnicotine Addiction. BMJ. 2003; 327; 1394–1395.
  4. Saitz R. Treatment of Alcohol and Other Drug Dependence. Liver Transpl. 2007; 13: S59–S64.
  5. Hogan MJ. Diagnosis and Treatment of Teen Drug Use. Med Clin North Am. 2000; 84(4): 927–966, vii.

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Exercise Improves Longevity

Regular fitness and health exercise improves people’s lifespans through the resulting enhanced function of most of the organs of the body. Improved heart function aids in proper distribution of blood and oxygen to all the parts of the body. Proper pumping of blood increases the blood flow in the peripheries of the body— the arms and legs—and improved functioning of the cells lining the blood vessels. Aerobic exercise has been found to improve the function of these cells. This helps the organs and tissues in the body to perform effectively, even with increasing age. Furthermore, it has been found that the risk of heart disorders is decreased in individuals who do fitness and health exercises regularly.1,2

Regular exercise appears to have a positive effect in tissues of the body. It enhances various mechanisms which help in improving the performances of the numerous cells and tissues that normally tend to slow down owing to increased aging. Regular exercises also seems to decrease the incidence of a wide range of diseases such as heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, rheumatic arthritis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson diseases, and certain cancers.3,4 An individual can lead a healthy and long life with regular fitness and health exercises., In addition, I.M. Lee and his associates at the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, in a review of a group of studies concluded that physical activity is effective in postponing mortality and enhancing longevity. The studies by Lee et al have shown that higher levels of physical activity are associated with decreased risks of different age-related disorders such as coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes mellitus, colon, and possibly breast cancer, osteoporosis and the overall improvement of general health and longevity.5


  1. Naylor LH, et al. The Athlete’s Heart: A Contemporary Appraisal of the ‘Morganroth Hypothesis’. Sports Med. 2008; 38(1): 69–90.
  2. Umpierre D, Stein R. Hemodynamic and Vascular Effects of Resistance Training: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease. Arq Bras Cardiol. 2007; 89(4): 256–262.
  3. Goto S, et al. Hormetic Effects of Regular Exercise in Aging: Correlation with Oxidative Stress.
  4. Radak Z, Chung HY, Goto S. Systemic Adaptation to Oxidative Challenge Induced by Regular Exercise. Free Radic Biol Med. 2008; 44(2): 153–159.
  5. Lee IM, Paffenbarger RS Jr, Hennekens CH. Physical Activity, Physical Fitness and Longevity. Aging (Milano). 1997; 9(1-2): 2–11.

Exercise Improves Respiratory Function

The respiratory function of the lungs and associated tissues is vital in providing oxygen to the numerous cells and tissues of the body. Regular fitness exercise training is believed to improve the functioning of the lungs and the associated bodily structures.

Fitness exercise leads to strengthening and the increase of muscle mass in the chest and the abdominal region, which helps in more vigorous respiratory movement. The overall capacity of the respiratory system is reflected by factors such as breathing rate, the amount of air taken into the lungs with every respiratory movement and the extraction of the oxygen from the air, which increases with regular exercise.

These effects of the lungs have also been attributed to the lack of oxygen in the blood because of increased consumption during exercise. Lack of oxygen in the blood indirectly improves the functioning of the lungs by stimulating them to work harder.1, 2

Not enough oxygen activates a compensatory mechanism in the lungs. The surface area of the lungs (in the form of alveoli)—where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs—is increased following lack of oxygen. Also, the energy outlay for a given activity is also found to reduce after one does prolonged fitness exercises.

There is an overall improvement in the functioning of the lungs following regular exercise. Furthermore, a positive correlation between physical exercise and lung function was noticed in one of the studies in Norway.3,4

A study conducted at the Division of Physiology, Department of Medicine of the University of California, USA, has pointed out that fitness exercise training enhances every component of the oxygen transport and metabolic system, though the physical structure of the lung remains the same. Therefore, we know that exercise training plays a major role in improving the functional capacity of the lungs and associated structures and makes them more efficient.2


  1. Holmen TL. Physical Exercise, Sports, and Lung Function in Smoking versus Nonsmoking Adolescents. Eur Respir J. 2002; 19: 8–15.
  2. Wagner PD. Why Doesn’t Exercise Grow the Lungs when other factors do? Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2005; 33(1): 3–8.
  3. Opdekamp C, Sergysels R. Respiratory Physiotherapy in Lung Diseases. Rev Med Brux. 2003; 24(4): A231–A235.
  4. Scano G, et al. Respiratory Muscle Energetics During Exercise in Healthy Subjects and Patients with COPD. Respir Med. 2006; 100(11): 1896–1906.

Exercise Prevents Your Veins from Becoming Weak and Limits Their Function

Veins are blood vessels that carry impure blood back to the heart to be pumped into the lungs for purification. This process occurs against gravity which requires the veins to be strong enough to push the blood. Veins have valves that prevent blood from flowing in the reverse direction (away from the heart). When these valves are not able to close properly, blood flows backward and causes the veins to become wide and tortuous. This situation is seen especially in the veins of the legs and this condition is known as varicose veins. Other than causing cosmetic problems, varicose veins are often painful, particularly when standing or walking. Furthermore, the area around varicose veins is more prone to ulcer formation.1

A regular exercise and fitness program may be an effective way to both prevent the occurrence of such conditions and also to treat them.1 Activities such as walking and jogging have direct effects on improving blood circulation in the legs by means of enhancing the pumping action of the muscles. This fitness activity increases the blood circulation in the area to bring more fresh blood and removes the impure blood. As a result, proper circulation helps to prevent development of varicose veins.1

In addition, exercise helps to push stagnant blood from the bottom of the legs back to the heart. During fitness exercises, the calf muscles alternately contract and relax, thus squeezing blood back toward the heart. Therefore, fitness activities such as walking, running, cycling, skating and dancing are ideal in the treatment and prevention of varicose veins, whereas prolonged standing tends to increase blood pooling and to widen the veins.


  1. Jones RH, Carek PJ. Management of Varicose Veins. Am. Fam. Physician. 2008; 78(11): 1289–1294.

Aerobic Exercise Increases Tolerance for Pain

Pain is an essential and protective mechanism of the body. Pain threshold is a commonly used term when referring to pain and refers to the amount of stimulus required to elicit pain in an individual. Interestingly, regular exercise has shown to increase the pain threshold in humans, thereby increasing their ability to perform activities for a longer duration and in painful situations. Increased pain threshold helps people to improve their work performance, cope better with pain and decreases the need for medications to alleviate pain.

The pain threshold increases as a result of increased concentration of a substance known as beta-endorphin from the pituitary gland, commonly referred to as the “master gland” of the body.1 These substances increase the maximal work capacity of the muscles.1Furthermore, regular aerobic training exercises cause the pain threshold to increase by elevating one’s mood and self-esteem and decreasing one’s level of depression.. Changes in the perception of pain and positive moods enable an individual to perform better. Aerobic exercise has been reported to improve a person’s mood and decrease the perception of pain. It is also effective in relieving depression.2

A study at the University of Wollongong, Australia concluded that aerobic training increased pain tolerance. It was also noted that regular aerobic exercises improved vigor while decreasing fatigue, tension and depression.3


  1. Schwarz L, Kindermann W. Changes in Beta-endorphin Levels in Response to Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise. Sports Med. 1992; 13(1): 25–36.
  2. Hoffman MD, Hoffman DR. Does Aerobic Exercise Improve Pain Perception and Mood? A review of the Evidence Related to Healthy and Chronic Pain Subjects. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2007; 11(2): 93–97.
  3. Anshel MH, Russell KG. Effect of Aerobic and Strength Training on Pain Tolerance, Pain Appraisal and Mood of Unfit Males as a Function of Pain Location. J Sports Sci. 1994; 12(6): 535–547.

Aerobic Exercise Enhances Oxygen Transport throughout the Body

The efficient transport of oxygen through the red blood cells (RBCs) is primarily initiated by improved blood supply through the heart. Strenuous training, as observed in athletes, has resulted in changes in certain dimensions and functions of the heart which improves the function of the heart. The size of the heart cavity and thickness of the walls of the heart do increase, enabling the heart to pump blood in a more efficient way with less stress.1

Proper pumping of blood increases the blood flow in the peripheries of the body, such as the arms and legs, and causes improved functioning of the cells lining the blood vessels. Aerobic exercise has been found to have the beneficial effect of improving the function of these cells. This also means that there is an increased amount of blood sent to the lungs to release carbon dioxide and take in oxygen.2 For example, an athlete’s heart can pump up to six times more efficiently than the heart of a normal individual. Furthermore, in athletes, the rates and volumes of blood transferred through the heart are also improved by almost 50%.3

Help your body help you by doing aerobic exercises long term. Long-term aerobic exercise has been associated with an increased rate of RBC destruction, which, in turn, paves the way for increased production. An increased rate of RBC production may be advantageous because young blood cells are more efficient in transporting oxygen.4


  1. Naylor LH, et al. The Athlete’s Heart: A Contemporary Appraisal of the ‘Morganroth Hypothesis’. Sports Med. 2008; 38(1): 69–90.
  2. Umpierre D, Stein R. Hemodynamic and Vascular Effects of Resistance Training: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease. Arq Bras Cardiol. 2007; 89(4): 256–262.
  3. Linden RJ. The Size of the Heart. Cardioscience. 1994; 5(4): 225–233.
  4. Smith JA. Exercise, Training and Red Blood Cell Turnover. Sports Med. 1995; 19(1): 9–31.

Exercise and Proper Diet Improves Liver Functioning

The liver, which is considered the largest gland in the body, is a vital organ that has a wide range of functions, such as neutralization of toxins, protein synthesis and production of chemicals necessary for digestion. Liver function may be affected by the increased accumulation of fat, as observed in diabetics, obese individuals and chronic alcoholics.

Fortunately, regular exercise has been shown to lower the amount of fats and related substances in the liver.1 Such physical exertion also enhances the action of a hormone known as insulin in the liver, which is required for proper metabolism of glucose. Excess fat accumulation decreases the action of insulin in the liver, which is considered as one of the causes of diabetes, a disorder characterized by high blood glucose levels.2

The decrease in the amount of fatty material in the liver also decreases the accumulation of fats in the blood vessels. This benefit is brought about by the improved functioning of the liver, which plays a vital role in the utilization of fats in the body. Improved liver functioning reduces the accumulation of fats in the blood vessels and helps in keeping the blood vessels smooth and supple.3 Exercise has also been beneficial in prevention of a common liver problem called nonalcoholic fatty liver disorder, which is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver cells and tissues.4 Furthermore, exercise improves circulation, energy consumption, digestion and overall well-being.

Consequently, everyone is advised to exercise to improve his or her liver function. Additionally, a team of researchers from the Department of Pediatrics, McMaster University, Canada, has suggested that this improvement can be noticed when there is a generalized weight loss following proper diet and regular exercise.5 Therefore, regular exercise and proper diet are necessary to improve the functioning of the liver.


  1. Katsan CS. Prescribing Aerobic Exercise for the Regulation of Postprandial Lipid Metabolism: Current Research and Recommendations. Sports Med. 2006; 36(7): 547–560.
  2. Katsanos CS. Lipid-induced Insulin Resistance in the Liver: Role of Exercise. Sports Med. 2004; 34(14): 955–965.
  3. Nikolaidis MG, Mougios V. Effects of Exercise on the Fatty-acid Composition of Blood and Tissue Lipids. Sports Med. 2004; 34(15): 1051–1076.
  4. Cave M, et al. Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Predisposing Factors and the Role of Nutrition. J Nutr Biochem. 2007; 18(3): 184–195.
  5. Devries MC, Samjoo IA, Hamadeh MJ, Tarnopolsky MA. Effect of Endurance Exercise on Hepatic Lipid Content, Enzymes, and Adiposity in Men and Women. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008; 16(10): 2281–228.

Health Fitness Exercise Alleviates Menstrual Cramps

Menstrual periods are associated with a wide variety of symptoms in both young and adult women. Often, menstrual cramps inhibit them from performing day-to-day activities.

Regular health fitness exercise has been advised for women suffering from cramps associated with menstruation and its irregularities. Furthermore, it has been shown that menstrual pain is substantially reduced in regularly exercising women. This should act as a strong motivation to move and use those muscles. Aerobic exercise and other similar health fitness workouts have been found to be useful in reducing the symptoms associated with menstruation.1, 2

Health fitness exercises are known to reduce stress and decrease the contraction of the uterus (womb) and, thereby, decrease the symptoms. Another motivation is that exercise also influences the body’s defense mechanism (immune system) and results in relief from menstrual cramps.3

A.J. Daley, an expert from the University of Birmingham, UK Medical School, concluded in a recent study that regular exercise in conditions such as dysmenorrheal (painful menstruation) may not only reduce the incidence but also eliminate or reduce the need for medication to control menstrual cramps and other associated symptoms.4 Further, exercise improves mood and it also results in better coping with the problem of menstrual cramping. Isn’t that enough motivation to begin a good and regular health fitness program?


  1. Dickerson LM, et al. Premenstrual Syndrome. Am Fam Physician. 2003; 67: 1743–1752.
  2. Proctor M, Farquhar C. Diagnosis and Management of Dysmenorrhoea. BMJ. 2006; 332(7550): 1134–1138.
  3. Gannon L. The Potential Role of Exercise in the Alleviation of Menstrual Disorders and Menopausal Symptoms: A Theoretical Synthesis of Recent Research. Women Health. 1988; 14: 105–127.
  4. Daley AJ. Exercise and Primary Dysmenorrhoea: A Comprehensive and Critical Review of the Literature. Sports Med. 2008; 38(8): 659–170.

Health Fitness Exercise Reduces Effects of Aging

As our age advances, the human body undergoes a variety of changes that affect the performance of the individual physically, mentally and emotionally. This effect— associated with lack of regular exercise or physical activity— hastens the process, thereby increasing the effects of aging.

It has been shown that regular health fitness training exercises in older people increases muscle strength and improves their coordination, endurance and flexibility.1 The ability to balance begins to decline as age progresses, increasing the risk of falls and injury. Consequently, suitable exercises have been advised on a regular basis to improve the ability of the individual to balance and prevent accidental falls. These health fitness exercises effectively enhance the balance function and coordination of hand and leg movements in order to prevent falls.2

Regular health fitness exercise also appears to have a positive effect on tissues of the body. It enhances various mechanisms, which help in improving the performance of various cells and tissues in the body. These normally tend to slow down owing to increased age.3

Regular health fitness exercises also seem to decrease the incidence of a wide range of diseases such as heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, rheumatic arthritis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson diseases, and certain cancers. It also improves the functioning of various organs such as the heart, brain, kidneys and liver, which are normally affected as aging progresses.

Begin an exercise program today because proper health fitness exercise, when performed on a regular basis, helps to tune these organs based on the needs of the aging individual and decrease the incidence of numerous disorders.4


  1. Miyakoshi N. Therapeutic Exercise. Clin Calcium. 2008; 18(11): 1611–1615.
  2. Wong AM, Lan C. Tai Chi and Balance Control. Med Sport Sci. 2008; 52: 115–123.
  3. Goto S, Naito H, Kaneko T, Chung HY, Radák Z. Hormetic Effects of Regular Exercise in Aging: Correlation with Oxidative Stress.
  4. Radak Z, Chung HY, Goto S. Systemic Adaptation to Oxidative Challenge Induced by Regular Exercise. Free Radic Biol Med. 2008; 44(2): 153–159.