the bottom line
Smoking hurts physical fitness -- even among people who are physically active and generally in good shape. The type of fitness that is most affected by smoking is endurance.
If you play sports, especially sports where endurance is important, such as soccer or basketball, you won't play as well if you smoke.
Smoking hurts physical fitness -- even among people who are physically active and generally in good shape. Scientists know that this is true because they have investigated the relationship between smoking and physical fitness in young people who are in the armed services. Many of these soldiers and sailors are only a few years older than you are right now, and most of them are in good physical condition -- except for their smoking habits.
Among a group of 19-year-old male army recruits in Switzerland, the distance that the recruits could cover in a 12-minute run was lower for smokers than for nonsmokers. Even men who were light smokers and those who had been smoking for less than 2 years didn't do as well as the nonsmokers did in this running test. In a group of British soldiers, physical fitness didn't improve as much in smokers as in nonsmokers after a six-month training program. A study of U.S. soldiers in basic training has shown that the differences in fitness between smokers and nonsmokers are large enough to be of practical importance. In this group of soldiers, those who smoked were less likely than the others to successfully complete basic training.
The type of fitness that is most affected by smoking is endurance. Physical fitness tests of more than 3,000 sailors in the U.S. Navy showed that smoking was associated with lower physical endurance but not with a reduction in physical strength. It makes sense that smoking would decrease a person's endurance because a healthy heart and lungs are needed for maximum endurance, and smoking is harmful to both the heart and the lungs.
If you play sports, especially sports where endurance is important, such as soccer or basketball, you won't play as well if you smoke. Smart athletes know this. Smoking rates among high school students who play interscholastic sports are much lower than those of non-athletes of the same ages.