Smoking is universally seen as the antithesis of physical performance - we seldom see a professional sportsperson lighting a cigarette.
There has never been better access to health guidance and information, and thus the knowledge of the noxious effects of smoking is widespread, leading to athletes avoiding them altogether, to the benefit of their sporting performance.
However, vaping is a younger phenomenon, meaning that less long-term research has been possible, especially on the effects of inhaling vapour on physical exertion. LiQuid explores whether vaping in professional sports is permitted, and the reasons for its banning - or lack thereof.
Can nicotine increase physical performance?
As soon as nicotine is ingested, it has a physical effect on the body. It is rapidly distributed around the body through the bloodstream, and while factors such as race, gender, and age are factors of its potency and its absorption speed, the effects of nicotine are generally the same for all.
From the moment that nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream, it increases the individual’s blood pressure and heart rate. Typically, athletes performing strength-related activities demonstrate a higher blood pressure than endurance athletes and, in theory, an increased heart rate improves the oxygen distribution around the body where it is needed.
Why nicotine can hinder the body’s ability to perform at optimal levels
However, alongside increasing heart rate and blood pressure, nicotine tightens the arteries, restricting blood flow. This means that when performing physical exertion while intaking nicotine, there may be a lack of blood supply at a time when it is most needed.
Furthermore, nicotine can have strong diuretic qualities, meaning you are more likely to pass urine, leading to dehydration. When performing physical exercise, the body requires a higher level of hydration than normal, so taking nicotine could lead to a much faster rate of hydration depletion. This can have severe health effects, and, at a minimum, will likely hinder physical performance.
Can UK athletes vape?
Today, there are no professional sporting bodies banning the use of nicotine intake. This means that an athlete could theoretically choose to vape, smoke, use nicotine patches, chew nicotine gum, or use other methods.
As a professional sportsperson, you may opt to vape alongside your training. Any person doing so, however, must do so with the knowledge that many health experts and sporting health advisors actively discourage it.
While the knowledge of the effect of vaping today is limited to the effects of nicotine on the body, this is enough for the majority of professional coaches to dissuade athletes from using it. The risks associated with nicotine intake and physical activity can have adverse health effects, so you should consider abstaining from mixing both.
Nevertheless, the physical effect of vaping is much less harmful than smoking a cigarette. The cardiovascular risks posed by smoking are much higher, and the long-term effects will no doubt impact an athlete’s physical ability.
With that said, there are many anecdotal examples of people who have switched from smoking to vaping and in-turn noticed a significant boost to their performance. While this isn’t really applicable to professional athletes, who largely abstain altogether, it is worth noting if you are a smoker looking to get more from your workouts – vaping could be a good way to bridge the gap between smoking and being smoke-free, and give you a bit more oomph in the gym.
Try to remember it’s not the act of vaping that causes this, simply the fact you are now getting your nicotine with around 95% fewer harmful chemicals, which will naturally improve your health when cut out of your life.
Learn more about vaping regulations
As information and research around vaping continues to emerge, LiQuid will continue to investigate and share all useful knowledge for those wanting to learn more about it. You can learn more about vaping, the laws surrounding it, and its health effects in the LiQuid VapeHub.