Smoking, Vaping, and Working Out – Find the Odd One Out

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Sports and exercise are usually associated with a healthy lifestyle, and smoking is generally considered to be incompatible with fitness. The explosive popularity of vaping has brought up new questions – can someone vape and still be into fitness? And which of these two can have worse effects on a sporty person?

Do professional athletes smoke or vape?

Of course, smoking and vaping are not common things among professional athletes. But they are humans and are prone to have bad habits. Bradley Wiggins, a five-time Olympic cycling champion was photographed with wine and a cigarette in 2012, when the athlete was celebrating his Olympic gold. A basketball legend Michael Jordan has been smoking cigars since 1993. Top football players including Wayne Rooney, Zinedine Zidane, Dimitar Berbatov, and Ashley Cole also were seen with a cigarette. Former tennis players Karsten Braasch and Anna Kournikova also smoked during their careers. 

Some sportsmen prefer vape flavors to tobacco smell. Football players Paul Pogba and David de Gea were seen vaping. Derrick Morgan, an NFL linebacker for the Tennessee Titans, is a known vaper. The athlete prefers CBD (cannabidiol) oil, as he has always advocated the therapeutic properties of marijuana.

CBD oil is also popular among fighters. Nate Diaz was using his vape pen filled with CBD at the post-fight press conference in 2016 to speed up the healing process. A UFC athlete Chris Camozzi is also open about his CBD oil use. A UFC fighter Gina Mazany believes that CBD is beneficial to health.

Athletes switch to vaping because they find it a healthier alternative to smoking. And the variety of types of vapes makes it more enjoyable.

How does your smoking habit affect your workout?

Smoking harms your ability to exercise and stay physically fit by affecting the body. The organs that suffer from smoking the most are:


The ability to exercise partly depends on how well the lungs work. Tobacco smoke hurts lung capacity. The tar coats the lungs and decreases the elasticity of air sacs. Smoking also creates phlegm that accumulates in your lungs and throat. It also destroys the cilia or the inner lining of the lungs that makes it difficult to cough out the phlegm. Phlegm clogs the lungs and airway causing chronic coughing or respiratory infections.


Carbon monoxide, a toxic chemical present in cigarette smoke, decreases blood oxygen levels. Smoking leads to chronic swelling of mucous membranes and narrowing of arteries, reducing the blood flow. During exercise, blood flow provides oxygen to your heart, muscles and other organs. If your body doesn’t get oxygen fast enough, you can’t work out effectively.


Smokers’ hearts beat faster than non-smokers’. The more you smoke, the higher your resting heart rate is. Your resting heart rate, or pulse, is the number of beats per minute your heart makes when you are not being physically active. Given that your heart does the extra work when you’re calm, exercise can be dangerous for you, as it will make your heart work extremely fast.

Smoking before, during or after a workout may have similar effects like having a huge meal right before doing 90 minutes of high-intensity cardio. The energy will be spent on digesting the meal and you’ll have less energy to workout. Reduced stamina may even make you feel sick.

Can vaping hurt your physical performance?

Unlike combustible cigarettes, vaping uses vape liquid and not tobacco. It creates vapor, not smoke. Thus, it doesn’t fill your lungs with tar. Many users who have switched to vaporizers report being able to breathe better after just a few days. That’s because their blood supply returns to normal. The ability to breath plays one of the most important roles in sports, and vaping will ultimately give you higher lung capacity and boost performance. 

Energy and endurance also play vital roles. Nicotine is a well-known stimulant. Even some professional athletes use Snus (chewing tobacco) before or during competitions. It is considered to provide endurance.

Given that e-cig juice usually contains nicotine, it can give you extra energy when you need it. Nicotine can also reduce the appetite, improve mood, and increase your heart rate and alertness. That helps to lose weight.

As with any nicotine product, there’re a few disadvantages of vaping while working out.

  • As we’ve already mentioned, nicotine increases the heart rate. It could be potentially life-threatening. Note that vaping delivers more nicotine than regular cigarettes. So, you should either avoid vaping before working out or use nicotine-free e-liquid.
  • It is said that a heavy vaping session within an hour or two before a workout shortens the breath. But it’s still deeper if compared to the performance after smoking tobacco cigarettes.
  • Researchers found several harmful additives in vape liquids that can lead to potential asthma and allergies. Always check the ingredients of the product you’re going to buy. It’s better to choose the best vape that is more expensive but has good quality. 

The potential long-term health effects of vaping are still unknown. There’s the lack of research on the issue, and health experts around the world continue to debate.

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to improve your athletic performance. Your lungs will begin to clean themselves, and the tar will be gradually removed from your body. In a few weeks, you’ll start breathing more deeply. Better health will make you more energetic and enduring.

You must know that nicotine is an addictive substance. So, if you’re not a smoker, you shouldn’t start vaping, no matter whether you go in for sports or not.

But if you want to quit, and all the traditional methods have not worked, it makes sense to try vaping. E-liquids that contain nicotine will help you survive the cravings, and a process similar to smoking will help you with the psychological factors, like smoking after a meal or while having a cup of coffee.