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This Is What Happens To Your Body After You Quit Smoking – A Timeline


As Medical News Today reports, cigarette smoking is among the leading causes of preventable death in the United States. Smokers are indeed having a trouble quitting smoking as both the physical addiction to nicotine and the psychological addiction to the act of smoking are challenges that require willpower to overcome. 

Which is more, many smokers don’t think that they will see benefits for some time after quitting smoking, making this task even more far-fetched in their head. However, the real benefits of quitting smoking begin in as little as an hour after the last cigarette.

So, what happens to your body when you quit smoking? Here’s a timeline that will make you think twice before giving up the idea to quit.


Smoking makes your blood pressure and heart rate increase. Only in as little as 20 minutes after the last cigarette, both return to normal and circulation may start to improve.


The smoke from a cigarette contains carbon monoxide, among other known toxins. Carbon monoxide can be fatal in high doses, as it binds to hemoglobin, preventing it to bind with oxygen (and thus causing a lack of it in the body).

Within 12 hours of the last cigarette, your body manages to cleanse itself of the excess carbon monoxide and the oxygen levels start to increase.


It only takes 1 day for the risk of heart attack to decrease.

Smoking is known to increase the risk of coronary heart disease by lowering the good cholesterol. It also increases blood clots and raises your blood pressure, thus raising the risk of a stroke. These negative effects start to diminish completely by this time.

Which is more, you need only 1 day for your oxygen levels to normalize, enabling you to do physical activity and exercise more easily.


The nicotine levels in the body are depleted, and while this is healthy, the nicotine depletion will cause a nicotine withdrawal. At this milestone, most people are likely to experience severe headaches, moodiness and irritability, and cravings – as the body readjusts.


Lung function begins to improve. The coughs and shortness of breath are reduced, the lung capacity improves and the lungs heal. Which is more, athletic endurance increases even more, and running and jumping are much easier to do.


Circulation continues to improve.


The lungs experience a significant recovery and healing. The cigarette smoke takes a toll on the cilia, which are delicate, hair-like structures inside the lungs which help push mucus out of the lungs and help fight infections. By this milestone, these structures recover fully.

This means a considerable decrease in the frequency of lung infections because the cilia are able to do their job as they are supposed to.


The risk for coronary heart disease drops by 50%, and it will continue to drop further.

BEYOND THE 1-YEAR MARK, the body starts healing completely from the toxic effects smoking had on it. The blood vessels return to their original capacity, the likelihood of developing blood clots is lowered, and the chances of developing lung, mouth, throat, or pancreatic cancer drop significantly.

Smoking has been shown to have a strong correlation with the risk of developing coronary heart disease. It may take longer for an ex-smoker to reach a likelihood of developing coronary heart disease equal to that of a non-smoker, among other smoking-induced conditions.

However, the most difficult effort is within the first month, after which the body will start healing itself without you giving too much of yourself into it. Engaging in physical exercise and starting a healthier diet can help a lot during this period.

Whatever way you choose to be your way of quitting smoking, stay persistent and remind yourself that you are much more important than that cigarette that seems tempting, but promises nothing.

Make a plan on how you will quit, get yourself a calendar specially meant for this process, and set yourself short-term and long-term goals. Include exercise, healthy habits, and reminders.

Our advice is to set these milestones in your calendar and tick them as you reach them. Being aware of how good your body feels when not exposed to the toxins of cigarette smoke is a great way to stay motivated.


Mary Wright


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