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Participation in a population-based physical activity programme as an aid for smoking cessation: a randomised trial
  1. Raphaël Bize1,2,
  2. Carole Willi1,
  3. Arnaud Chiolero1,2,
  4. Rebecca Stoianov3,
  5. Sylvie Payot2,
  6. Isabella Locatelli1,
  7. Jacques Cornuz1,3
  1. 1Department of Ambulatory Care and Community Medicine, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  2. 2Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  3. 3Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Center, Lausanne, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Raphaël Bize, Department of Ambulatory Care and Community Medicine, University of Lausanne, Rue du Bugnon 44, CH-1011 Lausanne, Switzerland; raphael.bize{at}


Objectives Exercise combined with nicotine therapy may help smoking cessation and minimise weight gain after quitting. Low participation in vigorous-intensity physical activity programmes precludes their population-wide applicability. In a randomised controlled trial, we tested whether a population-based moderate-intensity physical activity programme increases quit rates among sedentary smokers receiving nicotine therapy.

Methods Participants (n=481; 57% male; mean age, 42.2 years (SD 10.1); mean cigarette consumption, 27 (SD 10.2) per day) were offered a nine-week smoking cessation programme consisting of a weekly 15-minute counselling session and the prescription of nicotine replacement therapy. In addition, participants in the physical activity group (n=229) also took part in a programme of moderate-intensity physical activity implemented at the national level, and offering nine weekly 60-minute sessions of physical activity. To ensure equal contact conditions, participants in the control group (n=252) attended weekly 60-minute health behaviour education sessions unrelated to physical activity. The primary outcome was continuous CO-verified smoking abstinence rates at 1-year follow-up.

Results Continuous smoking abstinence rates were high and similar in the physical activity group and the control group at the end of the intervention (47% versus 46%, p=0.81) and at 1-year follow-up (27% versus 29%, p=0.71). The mean weight gain after one year was 4.4 kg and 6.2 kg among sustained quitters of the physical activity and control groups, respectively (p=0.06).

Conclusion Participation in a population-based moderate-intensity physical activity programme for 9 weeks in addition to a comprehensive smoking cessation programme did not significantly increase smoking cessation rates. A non-significant reduction in weight gain was observed among participants who quit smoking in the physical activity group.

Trial registration; US National Institutes for Health (available online at; Clinical Trial Registration Number: NCT00521391)

  • Smoking cessation
  • exercise
  • prevention
  • risk factors
  • cessation

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  • Funding This trial was supported by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF 3200-067085). Other funders: Swiss National Science Foundation.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval The research protocol was approved on 15 January 2002, by the Lausanne Medical School Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.