SMOKING AND ITS EFFECT ON AN ATHLETE
Smoking is a habit that is taken up by almost 30% of the growing teenage population . It not only plagues the young but also the old. When cigarette smoking was first introduced, it was meant to be a pastime. It was also considered to be cool , hip etc. People felt, smoking cigarettes would them socially acceptable but what they did not realize was the human body isn t designed to accept its effects. Smoking deteorates the health of a person but also eventually leads to fatal illnesses.
Smoking and Performance
During the early thirties and forties, when baseball was becoming popular sport, tobacco companies contracted star players such as Lou Gehrig to portray their success by cigarette smoking but in contrary smokers do not make good athletes. Athletes need to have a lot of endurance and need to perform under stressful conditions. Smoking can evidently affect both of these. When an athlete in particular, starts smoking, his /her airway resistance is increased, which means, the person is utilizing most of the energy for breathing leaving less energy for physical activity. The airway resistance is increased because Co2 (Carbon Monoxide one of the by products as a result of smoking) occupies the space of oxygen in the red blood cells, leaving less oxygen for the working muscles. The overall effect is that the smoker has less oxygen available for metabolism, which makes the athlete work twice as hard . Fatigue sets in and endurance is lessened because of which performance suffers.
There have been many studies and research done to show that if you smoked you were more prone to be less active. A professor in United States ran an experiment, which comprised of a group of smokers and non-smokers, were asked to run a marathon. The result was, the distance covered in the race was inversely related to the daily cigarette consumption . The more cigarette the person smoked the worse he/she performed. The participants were asked to run a 3km track. The non-smoker covered 2613m in 12 minutes, while the smoker could complete only 2284m in 12 minutes. This means the smoker only covered 76% of the track while the non-smoker covered 87% of the track . This difference in percentage shows that the endurance and energy of the smoker has depleted more in the same time. The research also showed that both sides of the participants had the same energy intake, proving that eating habits did not play factor in the run . Therefore if an athlete smokes, the muscle strength is not going to affect his/her performance but the amount of oxygen the athlete can take in will be severely limit the athlete s performance.
Smoking and Weight
Some people have been led to believe that, smoking helps keep their weight down. One study has found that smokers had 2.8% lower total body fat than non-smokers . A British study found that 42% of Canadian girls who smoked worried about their weight . This belief by the people is a misconception because the nicotine, which is present in a cigarette, decreases the efficiency with which the body extracts the food. Therefore useful nutrients such a proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins etc are not fully utilized. Secondly nicotine also reduces the appetite for food containing simple carbohydrates and as a result, a smoker does not eat as much and has less total body weight. Smokers also don t eat as result of stress. When a smoker has stress, a hormone by the name of epinephrine is released into the blood stream. This hormone is directly related to the presence of nicotine in the blood stream .
Second Hand Smoke
Smoking not only has a huge impact on how an athlete performs but also his/her health. The athlete need not be smoking but if he/she socializes with people who are smokers and visits bars, clubs quite often, they are also at risk of developing the same symptoms as a smoker. This is because they are exposed to second hand smoke . This is the smoke created when a cigarette is burned and the smoke exhaled by the smoker. The smoke at the end of a burning cigarette is more harmful to the non-smoker than the smoke inhaled by the smoker because the particles are smaller and can go deeper into the lung and can be more damaging. The non-smoker can develop the same health complications as the smoker. Children and teenagers are most seriously affected by second-hand smoke since developing tissues are more likely to be damaged. The carcinogens, or cancer-causing agents in second-hand smoke, are spread evenly throughout an indoor environment. The carcinogens are just as dangerous to people who are either near or far away from the source. In addition, even though a small amount of second-hand smoke inhaled by a nonsmoker, research indicates that second-hand smoke contains higher concentrations of some of the carcinogens than found in smoke inhaled and exhaled by the smoker . Therefore, even though less second-hand smoke is being inhaled it is very dangerous.
Smoking cigarettes damages the body slowly and immensely. Although the effects of smoking are not experienced right away, the most damage done is to the cardiovascular system. This system is composed of the heart, lungs and the circulatory system. An athlete especially constantly uses the system during training and performance.
The use of the cardiovascular system is a simple process that everyone does involuntarily. The first step is when you breathe in and when you smoke. The tar from the cigarette slowly over the years clog up the alveoli in your lungs. It is the same process as how cholesterol/fat builds up in your arteries and restrict the flow of blood. Alveoli are the areas where oxygen is diffused into the blood, if more alveoli are clogged; the harder it is for the oxygen to reach the working muscles. This usually leads to shortness of breath that could fatally harm the endurance of the athlete. Cigarette smoking has many irreversible health effects, which directly damages your respiratory system. The main reason why tobacco smoke is harmful to the body is because it contains more than 4000 different chemicals ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, lead, nicotine etc. Out of all these chemicals nicotine is responsible for changing the internal function of a person
Effects Of Nicotine
Nicotine changes how your body and brain function. It has two opposite results. It can both stimulate and relax smokers, depending on how much and how often they smoke. It initially causes a sudden rush of adrenaline. This hormone is released when you are either excited or are under pressure. It also increases your basal metabolic rate. Which means you would burn more calories just by sitting around than by doing exercise. This is not a healthy way of losing weight because it also affects the release of the hormone insulin, which is responsible for the excess glucose in your body that could lead the person to be hyperglycemic .
In conclusion smoking cigarettes has both its positive and negative effects but largely it is negative. The positive effect is nicotine is a good weight loss agent if used properly but on the other hand nicotine combined together with CO2 reduces the endurance capacity of the individual. Overall smoking has a bad effect on the athlete and any improvement an athlete feels through the stimulating or calming effect of a cigarette is purely psychological. This is why when you look at top athletes they are not
tobacco users and they do not want to portray that their performance is related to cigarette smoking.