Cardiovascular exercise is a vital cornerstone when it comes to improving your health and fitness.
Whether it’s already a part of your lifestyle, or if you want to start introducing it to your routine, it’s important to consider the health of your lungs and heart and how vaping may affect them when combined with cardio, especially when compared to the effects of smoking.
The NHS has suggested that vaping carries “a small fraction of the risk of cigarettes” as e-cigarette vapour doesn’t contain tar or carbon monoxide which are two of the most harmful elements in tobacco smoke.
As highlighted in a landmark study conducted by Public Health England circa 2015 that found e-cig vapour to be 95% less harmful than cigarette smoke. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take a closer look at how vaping may affect your cardio performance.
Does Vaping Affect Cardio?
In short – yes, but not half as much as smoking. Vaping is often hailed as a less detrimental choice than smoking, especially as someone who enjoys cardio activity, due primarily to the lack of tar and other restrictive and damaging compounds being deposited in the lungs.
When switching from smoking to vaping, some runners claim to have felt a noticeable positive impact on their breathing. Understandable when considering the natural expungement of tar from the lungs that occurs in the time following quitting smoking tobacco.
If you’re starting to vape without having previously smoked however, you may find the reverse is true; any chemical substances passing through the lungs that aren’t ordinarily there carry a small amount of risk to cardiovascular performance, lung rejuvenation and overall health.
Another improvement that many people claim to see as a result of switching from smoking to vaping, is that systolic blood pressure declines. Systolic blood pressure is the measure of pressure on your arteries during the contractions of your heart. Smoking is widely understood to dramatically increases this pressure.
As with lung recovery, if you already smoke and then switch to vaping, you’re likely to see an improvement in your blood pressure. However, if you start vaping without previously having smoked, you will still likely see a reduction in your cardio performance, albeit likely less than that caused by cigarettes.
Does vaping make you gain weight?
The simple answer is no, vaping doesn’t make you gain weight. Stopping smoking, however, can cause you to gain weight albeit indirectly. This indirect weight gain is a by-product of a reduction in your nicotine intake.
Nicotine is a natural appetite suppressant which can lower your insulin levels and increase your metabolic rate. As a result, when you’re smoking nicotine, often you won’t feel hungry, won’t crave sugary foods as much, and will have a heightened metabolic rate.
If you stop smoking suddenly, the lack of nicotine in your system will likely trigger the reverse; causing you to have an increased appetite, seek out sugary foods and have a slower metabolism, which ultimately can cause you to gain weight if not controlled.
Does vaping have calories?
Often, weight gain concerns arise from the fact that e liquid does contain calories. While e-liquid does contain a very low number of calories, they’re negligible (around 3-5 calories per ml in the worst case). There’s much debate around whether you even absorb these calories as they pass through your lungs.
For those with type 2 diabetes, many experts claim that vaping hasn’t been shown to have any effect on blood sugar levels, suggesting the limited calories present have almost no impact on your body.
Even e-liquids with sweetening ingredients don't typically contain "free sugars" - the type associated with weight gain and diabetic reactions.
So, what’s the verdict?
Switching from smoking to vaping is likely to help improve your running performance as you may see benefits such as increased lung capacity, reduced blood pressure and by maintaining nicotine intake will indirectly stave-off some of weight-gaining factors.
With that said if you are neither a smoker or vaper, and are committed to cardio – it’s best you don’t start either and preserve your Olympian temple!
Of course, you should always make sure that you consult a healthcare professional before making lifestyle changes that could impact your wellbeing.