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Old 02-03-2014, 08:15 AM   #1
Dan McKenna
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Lung Capacity/Function After Quitting Smoking

Not sure if this is the right section or not so please move if needed. I am wondering if anyone has experience or knows someone that has quit smoking and does Crossfit. I started Crossfit in May of 2013 and was a smoker of over 10 years I quit smoking in July of 2013 in hopes it would help me perform better. Initially I noticed I could breathe a little easier but now after 7 months I don't think my lung capacity or ease of breathing has increased. Is this normal? How quickly should my lungs recover if at all? It is my ability to breathe that always holds me back during workouts I feel like I have to stop and take too many breaths compared to what I should. Any feedback is welcome. Thanks!
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Old 02-03-2014, 10:14 PM   #2
Clint Harris
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Re: Lung Capacity/Function After Quitting Smoking



First of. Good stuff - best decision you've ever made. Keep it up. It is not worth even thinking about smoking again let alone doing it.

Ex 15 year, pack+ day smoker here. I quit on Jan 9, 2010.
I also started eating better and working out (just bodyweight stuff, like homemade odd-object circuits with running and C2 rower).
I can't recall what my lungs were like, no doubt they were terrible much like my general physical and cardio fitness. I'm sure my blood volume and ability to transfer oxygen efficiently was shot too - let alone simply how much air I could fill my lungs up with. There was definitely a long period where I was still recovering for being sick all of those years.
I do recall not being able to fill my lungs up completely without coughing - like just a full breath, not the full breath followed by another one, then some more, and some more - I'd start coughing at a certain point as lungs would tickle. That no longer happens.
I don't know how long it will take to recover, but everyone is different. (all sorts of different things too - like habits change, or skin, or nails, or gums, etc). Now that I feel normal - not better, but normal, before I was feeling sick - I can't imagine going back into that state. I'm sure there is information on whyquit.com (wfs) and is worth a read even after you've quit. All teh info helps.

For me, prior to smoking (and then early days) I was always well equipped lung-wise. I played a lot of high intensity sports and also underwater sports that required either long breath holds (like minute+) or full intense physical activity for a few seconds, then come up for air and do it again - through a snorkel too.

At the end of my smoking - my lungs were shot. I would constantly hack **** up. Would be puffed walking up one stair and forget about exercise.

I started CF in 2/2011. By then I was reasonably in shape but did not have "crossfit lungs" yet. It didn't take me that long before my capacity really started to increase.
Fast forward to today. My lungs seem perfectly fine. I out-breathe many life-long non-smokers.
Am I fully recovered ? No idea - that's the price I paid for smoking. I do not notice any problems.
Occasionally, if it's hot or there is poor air quality, I will feel like I'm breathing through a straw - but I suspect I'd feel that anyway.

Don't give up. Just keep working and it will get better. Just not over night - remember, it took you 10 years to get into that poor state. May take a couple or more to undo the damage. Don't despair. Is totally worth it. I don't even think about smoking anymore.
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Old 02-04-2014, 07:44 AM   #3
Dan McKenna
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Re: Lung Capacity/Function After Quitting Smoking

Clint
Thanks for the reply! I guess I am being a little impatient like you said it took my 10 years to do this damage so I can't expect to be better in less than a year. I used to play competitive soccer and had awesome lungs hopefully someday I can get somewhat close to that. Either way I have put smoking in my rear view mirror and will never go back.
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Old 02-04-2014, 08:51 AM   #4
Brendan McNamar
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Re: Lung Capacity/Function After Quitting Smoking

Excellent! Second best thing I ever did in my life was quit smoking (for me alcohol & drugs needed to go first). Quit 16 or 17 years ago.

FU tobacco companies!

They say major improvement over the first 9 months in lung function. So you got 2 months to go.

How many workouts a week, how old are you, what are your body fat levels, what are your times.

You have probably had a lot but not all of the first year recovery. I would start looking at other factors.

I saw a very good study that went into more detail then most on lung recovery post smoking but I can find it again. It is out there somewhere.
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Old 02-04-2014, 09:17 AM   #5
Dan McKenna
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Re: Lung Capacity/Function After Quitting Smoking

Brendan I usually work out 4 or 5 times a week with semi active rest days usually playing some sport with my kids. I am 29 and not sure on my body fat levels I have a little belly fat but not much I am 5'10 and 181 lbs. I have actually put on weight since starting Crossfit probably about 10 to 12 pounds most of it is muscle. My Fran time is horrible because I suck at thrusters is 10:34. I am usually one of the last people to finish the wods because I have to catch my breath unless it is a short workout.

I have tried to google for lung recovery information but haven't found exactly what I am looking for that's why i turned to the forum. What other factors did you have in mind that may be holding me back?
Thanks
Dan
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Old 02-04-2014, 09:24 AM   #6
Jason Kelley
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Re: Lung Capacity/Function After Quitting Smoking

Nice one. Reckon you will see continued improvements although you may not 'feel' them as much as your initial improvements.

The only way to really know how much you improved would be to go back on the cigs for a month (Don't do it!) and you'd soon see the difference again.


On a side note. I know several cardio based class instructors that smoke. In fact I had my lung capacity measured for a health assessment when I was a smoker and the doctor suggested I may be good at rowing. There are several European footballers and rugby players that smoke and are international players.

So actual volume of your lungs can be quite good when you are a smoker. But make no doubt about it, performance will never be as good as it could be as a smoker.
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Old 02-11-2014, 11:45 AM   #7
Gilles Dhooghe
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Re: Lung Capacity/Function After Quitting Smoking

You could also go see lung-specialist and do a pulmonary function test, so (1) you know if you're in bad shape, (2) you know if you have astma (may be hidden by smoking?) and (3) you have a benchmark to test against in a couple of months.

Did it, completely failed it about 9 months ago, and had a 100% result last month (but, have to admit, using Symbicort for my astma in between).
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Old 02-11-2014, 11:53 AM   #8
Dan McKenna
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Re: Lung Capacity/Function After Quitting Smoking

Gilles
Not a bad idea, I had not thought about doing that.
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Old 02-12-2014, 01:14 PM   #9
Brendan McNamar
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Re: Lung Capacity/Function After Quitting Smoking

Fran times:

4-5-10 Scaled #75 15:00 42yo
5-14-11 Rx'd 11:29 43yo
6-14-11 Rx'd 10:32 43yo
2-15-13 Rx'd 6:37 45 yo
12-16-13 Rx'd 6:09 45 yo

Could do better then 6:09 but I just wanted to see what would happen if I just went all out. Did the round of 21 unbroken but was total wrecked for round of 15. If I break up the round of 21 I think I should be able to take 20 seconds or so off the 6:09 time today.

I came into CrossFit as a pudgy slow runner. Things like thrusters and wall balls absolutely destroyed me for the first 12 to 18 months. Keep at it you will get better.

This "Forging Elite Fitness" business takes hard work.
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:20 AM   #10
Frank E Morel
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Re: Lung Capacity/Function After Quitting Smoking

Damage is damage and lungs don't replace it's compliance very well, but it can be improved.

Exercise is going to help those areas that were started to be effected,
Areas that had decreasing blood flow and inflammation could revert back to healthy tissue. Healthy tissue could return to optimal states.
Scar tissue , will remain scar tissue for the rest of your life.

There was a study stating that repair to lung tissue was about 30 percent.
I cant remember if that was a max of 30 percent or return of 30 percent after a certain time frame. Still, gains is gains. Preservation is key

Kudos on stopping with the smoking, and kudos on taking a positive approach to your health, Stay the course, Reducing your cancer risk index, Your Alzheimer's risk, and cataract risk and increasing your life span are your main goals.
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Last edited by Frank E Morel : 02-21-2014 at 11:33 AM.
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