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Does Vaping Affect Cardio?

November 27, 2023

You don’t have to be a pro-athlete to want to stay informed about how vaping could affect your cardiovascular fitness and overall body. While you might know that nicotine is popular among certain athletic groups, it’s essential to understand why.

Discover how vaping affects your cardiovascular fitness to determine if vaping is the right decision for you.

Does Vaping Affect Cardio Fitness?

It’s nearly impossible for vaping not to have some effect on your cardiovascular fitness. Suppose you’ve changed from cigarette smoking to vaping. In that case, you might find that the absence of harmful substances associated with tobacco smoking helps improve your cardiovascular fitness.

However, studies show those using e-cigarettes perform worse in exercise stress training than those who have never used nicotine products. Thus, avoiding e-cigarettes and tobacco products will promote healthier lungs and other factors like a reasonable resting heart rate.

Although switching to vapes will rule out harmful substances, it'll affect your lungs when inhaling foreign chemicals. In more polluted areas, air pollutants may irritate your airways; the same can happen with vaping.

If you were a tobacco smoker and moved to vaping, you’d experience far fewer harmful toxins than if you had been smoking. Within minutes of quitting tobacco cigarettes, your body starts to recover, so omitting these toxic chemicals gives your lungs a chance to recover from tobacco smoking damage and improve cardiovascular health. 

Thus, compared to cigarettes, vaping as a part of a smoking cessation plan could improve cardiovascular health. However, the effect will likely be harmful if you vape without smoking tobacco. 

Despite this, athletes are still famous for using nicotine products monitored by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). WADA monitors test results because it can simultaneously give an unfair advantage and damage an athlete’s overall health. 

Vaping and Its Effects on the Body

Blood Pressure & Heart Rate

Vaping can impact your blood pressure and heart rate due to the presence of nicotine. By its nature, nicotine can send your body into fight or flight mode.

While this adrenaline kick might make athletes feel more motivated or stimulated to work out or perform, it ultimately puts the body under uncomfortable pressure. Combined with a high heart rate when exercising, nicotine can push your blood pressure and heart to unsustainable extremes. Studies have linked the sympathetic nervous system and exercise with adverse cardiovascular reactions.

Lung Function & Blood Oxygen Levels

Compared to smoking tobacco cigarettes, vaping creates less damage to your lungs and blood oxygen levels - excellent news for athletes. However, vaping can worsen existing lung conditions and contribute to irreversible lung damage

Appetite & Nutrition

Many people know that nicotine is addictive, but did you know it's also an appetite suppressant? If you aren’t eating enough of a balanced diet, that can infringe on your fitness goals, whether you're on a smoking cessation journey or not.

For example, if you are a weightlifter, you may need to build to gain more body mass, which often means consuming a precise amount of calories daily. Should you vape before, during, or after your workout, you’ll feel less hungry than you should to consume those calories. 

Muscle Recovery

Muscle recovery is essential to athletic performance, which additional nutritional healing can aid. However, if you’re seeking excellent recovery, you’ll be less likely to achieve that while vaping. While nicotine can increase blood pressure, it can also constrict your blood vessels and limit blood flow. When exercising, you need the oxygen in your red blood cells to reach your muscles. If this doesn’t happen, your ability to recover properly after exercise is limited. 

Are There Any Athletic Upsides To Vaping?

Nicotine As A Stimulant 

Studies show that athletes use nicotine products, such as vapes, because they believe that consuming nicotine or nicotine-containing substances proves ergogenic, meaning they think it will make them work harder and thus will improve their performance. 

For example, athletes have used stimulants to prevent dry mouth, control weight, improve reaction time and concentration, and encourage relaxation. However, it’s important to note that while nicotine is prevalent among athletes, there’s not enough research to support or ban its use.

Nicotine As An Appetite Suppressant 

The appetite-suppressant nature of nicotine means that any athletes looking to limit their calorie intake might find vaping helps to subside cravings. Compared to smoking, vaping would be a preferable option as it doesn’t introduce the same harmful chemicals, such as tar or carbon monoxide, into your lungs. 

However, you need to eat various healthy foods when exercising; listening to your hunger cues is essential to know how much you need to eat. If you vape, you may miss out on those cues, limiting your desire to eat and preventing you from eating the food you need to be healthy and keep your body happy. 

What Do the Experts Think?

While WADA monitors nicotine use among athletes, it’s legal for them to use it. But which athletes use it?The substance's highest use (or abuse) occurs in baseball, ice hockey, and similar strength-based sports; team sports use it the most, whereas endurance athletes use it the least. 

Studies show that more research needs to be conducted to show the consequences (positive or negative) of nicotine on athletic performance. Nor have researchers conducted enough studies to assess how the presence of nicotine supports or limits an athlete’s health and well-being, which keeps the debate going over whether officials should ban this substance from athletic arenas. 

However, plenty of instances show vaping specifically to hurt athletic performance. For example, many young athletes addicted to e-cigarettes struggle to perform due to shortness of breath and asthma-like symptoms. 

Studies show that when compared to smoking tobacco, vapes have a less harmful effect on the cardiovascular system, meaning your cardio fitness is likely to increase if you quit smoking tobacco and move to vapes. However, this improvement is only compared to traditional cigarettes. Vapes may be less dangerous, but there is always an element of risk. In the same study, the effect of e-cigarettes was linked to increased endothelial progenitor cells, which could lead to vascular injury. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Vaping Affect Your Running?

If you vape before going for a run, the nicotine could present problems for your heart rate. It also restricts oxygen blood levels and arteries, likely decreasing your stamina. You may find you can’t run as far or for as long as if you ran without vaping. 

Can You Vape and Still Be an Athlete?

While the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) monitors nicotine use in athletes, there aren’t enough studies to support a vaping ban. So legally, yes, you can vape and be an athlete. However, should you vape, your performance will likely be limited.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot of debate surrounding nicotine's effect on athletic performance. While it might seem like vaping could hone your ability to work out, plenty of evidence suggests that it's more limiting than not.

If you’re on a smoking cessation journey and are using vapes as a part of your programme, discover WAKA vapes today!

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