The role of physical activity in smoking harm reduction and cessation

First published: 29/03/2019 | Last updated: May 20th, 2019

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Professor Adrian H Taylor

Professor of Health Services Research

Professor of Exercise and Health Psychology

Adrian Taylor is Professor of Health Service Research and is Associate Dean for Research, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry. He is currently chief investigator for 3 NIHR funded trials involving health behavior change interventions, including two concerned with tobacco harm reduction, and was co-applicant for two previous trials on exercise and smoking cessation. He has published widely on laboratory research, involving fMRI brain scanning, eye tracker/dot probe tasks to assess attentional bias, and assessment of cravings, withdrawal symptoms and affect following acute exercise among smokers, heavy alcohol consumers and high energy snackers. This experimental work and his health behavior change background has informed the design of client-centred interventions to support changes in physical activity, smoking and alcohol use, and improve mental health and well-being. He co-authors a Cochrane review on exercise and smoking cessation. Adrian is also co-founding editor of the international journal, Mental Health and Physical Activity.

For more information see:  https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/staff/adrian-taylor



This presentation begins by providing some evidence from over the last 10-15 years on the effects of exercise and physical activity on cravings, functional brain responses, and attentional bias to relevant cues, through to large trials with various populations and outcomes, including smoking cessation, harm reduction and the prevention of weight gain.

After exploring how physical activity may contribute to important smoking outcomes, some preliminary encouraging data are presented from a pilot trial to test the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of health trainer (HT) support for smokers who don’t wish to quit (immediately) but do wish to reduce smoking. The HT support, based on client-centred approaches (such as motivational interviewing principles), guides smokers during up to 14 face to face or phone contacts to self-monitor and set goals linked to different approaches to smoking reduction, with additional encouragement to increase physical activity in a way that may implicitly or explicitly support smoking reduction. By reducing smoking we seek to build confidence to make a quit attempt but cessation is not the initial aim of the intervention. The intervention support is described and reviewed, and modifications noted ahead of a full NIHR funded Trial of physical Activity Reduction of Smoking (TARS), due to start recruiting in January 2018, in Plymouth, Oxford, Nottingham, and South London. The trial itself will compare the proportion of smokers who are abstinent after 8 months (and 3 and 15 months) between those receiving HT support and those receiving usual advice on reduction and quitting.

Professor Adrian H Taylor