Weight gain frequently occurs after smoking cessation. The objective of this study was to examine whether weight gain after smoking cessation was attenuated by physical activity (PA) in postmenopausal women.Methods:
A total of 4,717 baseline smokers from the Women's Health Initiative were followed for 3 years. One thousand two hundred eighty-two women quit smoking, and 3,435 continued smoking. Weight was measured at baseline and at the year 3 visit. PA was assessed at both times by self-report, summarized as metabolic equivalent task-hours per week. Multiple linear regression models were used to assess the association between PA and postcessation weight gain, adjusting for potential confounding factors.Results:
Compared with continuing smokers, quitters gained an average of 3.5 kg (SD = 5.6) between the baseline and year 3 visit. Quitters with decreased PA had the highest amount of weight gain (3.88 kg, 95% CI: 3.22-4.54); quitters with increased PA (≥15 metabolic equivalent task-hours /week) had the lowest weight gain (2.55 kg, 95% CI: 1.59-3.52). Increased PA had a stronger beneficial association for postcessation weight gain for women with obesity compared to normal weight women. Quitters who had low PA at baseline and high PA at year 3 and were also enrolled in a dietary modification intervention had nonsignificant weight gain (1.88 kg, 95% CI: −0.21-3.96) compared with continuing smokers.Conclusions:
Our data demonstrate that even a modest increase in PA (equivalent to current recommendations) can attenuate weight gain after quitting smoking among postmenopausal women, especially in combination with improved diet.