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Does Vaping Affect Working Out?

October 06, 2023

Many people can understand why smoking tobacco cigarettes could affect your athletic performance and workout sessions, but what about vaping? Anything that introduces a substance into your lungs is likely to affect your body and, as a result, your ability to work out.

While research is still being conducted, several bodily systems are likely to be affected by vaping because of nicotine. 

The Science of Vaping and Its Effects on the Body

Understanding the Basics of Vaping 

Vaping, or using an e-cigarette, is when you inhale and exhale the vapour produced from an e-cigarette, also known as a vape or vape pen.

You might be wondering how vapes work. These devices use battery-powered heating that vaporizes the e-liquid inside the vape. Vapes contain nicotine (the addictive chemical in tobacco cigarettes), vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, and various popular flavours

How Does Vaping Influence Athletic Performance?

Much like smoking, using e-cigarettes has effects on athletic performance because it has an impact on the body overall. It can affect your cardiovascular and respiratory systems, appetite, and muscle recovery. 

Vaping vs. Smoking: Impact on Exercise

Cardiovascular and Respiratory Implications

It’ll probably come as no surprise that inhaling any substance affects your respiratory system. Still, it might come as more of a surprise that knock-on effects also affect your cardiovascular system. 

Using e-cigarettes increases your heart rate and blood pressure due to nicotine consumption. When you inhale nicotine, adrenaline is released into your body, which increases your heart rate and blood pressure. 

This increase can affect the effectiveness of delivering oxygen (and other nutrients) to your muscles during exercise. 

It’s not known yet what the long-term effects of vaping are on your cardiovascular health, as it's a relatively new form of smoking. One hypothesis is that vaping might have less negative impact because it doesn’t have the same combustion-related toxins as tobacco smoking. However, until extensive research is conducted, the long-term health effects on cardiovascular health remain unknown. 

Regarding your respiratory system, vaping can affect your lungs’ functions differently. While there’s been research on the specifics, the science doesn’t yet fully explain the impact of e-cigarettes on the lungs, yet the effects are often adverse. Doctors put vaping down to one young person's lung collapsing, and there are likely more cases like this.

While e-cigarettes may have fewer adverse effects on lung function than smoking, the findings still suggest that smokers and vapers experience lung inflammation, which could lead to shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing. Much like the implications on cardiovascular health, the long-term health implications on the respiratory system remain unknown. 

Nutrition, Appetite, and Muscle Recovery

There’s not enough research yet to know the full extent of the effects of vaping on your muscles and their recovery. However, many scientists know nicotine can reduce blood flow and constrict your blood vessels, impeding your muscles’ ability to recover properly after exercise. These impacts, alongside the increase in blood pressure and heart rate, could lead to e-cigarettes putting more significant stress on the cardiovascular system; this stress, in turn, could limit muscle growth and strength. 

Most people know that nicotine is addictive, but many don’t know that it’s an appetite suppressant, meaning you might not consume the calories you need as an athlete to achieve your goals. You might wonder if vaping has calories or how many calories you consume when vaping. Regardless of the calorie count of a vape, the nicotine present will still limit your necessary calorie intake. 

For example, if you weight lift, you’ll likely be attempting to gain more muscle mass to lift heavier weights. However, consuming nicotine after or before your workout might prevent you from feeling the need to eat the calories you need, ultimately limiting your progress. 

If you’re working out to lose weight, you might see this appetite suppression as good, but you shouldn't vape if you aren’t already smoking. However, if you’re smoking tobacco already but want to work out (maybe increasing exercise is a part of your smoking cessation journey), you might find the transition from tobacco smoking to vaping a helpful step on that journey. 

It would be best to keep eating the right balance of nutrients to work out to lose weight effectively and not use vaping as a food replacement. 

Should Athletes Consider Vaping?

It’s important to realize that vaping doesn't have a one-size-fits-all answer. Generally speaking, however, if the athlete isn’t a tobacco smoker, they should avoid vaping. 

However, if the athlete is a tobacco smoker looking for help on their journey to quitting smoking, vaping could be a short-term solution to eliminating the dangerous and toxic chemicals in tobacco cigarettes. Vaping isn’t for everyone; some prefer to quit cold turkey, while others prefer nicotine replacement therapies. 

Real-Life Impacts: Athletes and Vaping

Notable Athletes Who Vape

Everyone’s vaping experience is different and ever-changing, so there’s no concrete list of all the athletes who vape. However, paparazzi have spotted some athletes like James Rodriguez in their “downtime” vaping. It’s impossible to know how often they do this, and personal experiences of sporting performance are likely to vary. 

Key Studies on Vaping and Physical Activity

New studies are constantly emerging on vaping as a general topic. You can find some influential critical studies on the relationship between vaping and physical activity in the Journal of Applied Physiology and the British Journal of Sports Medicine, to name a few.

Final Thoughts

Overall, it’s clear that vaping is likely to affect your performance. No two people are the same, nor is there one vaping experience, so it’s impossible to say that everyone will feel the same effects. 

However, if you’re a tobacco smoker and want to try vaping to help you quit smoking, we have a wide selection of options to fit your preferences. Check out our selection of vapes available at WAKA today!

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