Surfing: stop smoking and increase paddle power

Smoking and surfing: two words with the same number of characters; two words with vastly different implications. There are many surfers who smoke; however, if you're passionate about the ocean and the waves, consider giving up cigarettes. You can't imagine what you'll earn. You'll live longer, surf better, catch more waves, and ride waves others couldn't catch.

Each cigarette you smoke contains around 4,000 chemicals. Add the insanely addictive drug nicotine to this mix and you can already see the problem. Smokers spend money to fuel a poisonous habit.

Smoking affects the whole human body from head to toes. Hair loss, eye irritation, blindness, headaches, mood changes, sore throat, tooth loss, bronchitis, pneumonia, coughs, colds, shortness of breath, heart attack, cold hands and feet, premature skin ageing, and impotence are just some of the common ailments caused by smoking.

Surfing and smoking are not complimentary. While every human is free to make his/her own choices, smoking's ill effects on a surfer's body - from stamina to life expectancy - can't responsibly be overlooked. And the truth is you could improve your wave riding skills so much by quitting that burning those last cigarettes would seem in hindsight like the best choice you ever made.

A Californian surfer that smokes a daily pack of cigarettes spends nearly 2400 dollars on tobacco products every year. How does that translate into the purchase of surfboards, wetsuits, travels, and surf gear? "Only" smoke ten a day? That's still 1200 dollars.

Tobacco changes surfers. Smoking damages lungs and makes breathing more difficult. It affects lung capacity, a critical variable in surfing and paddling for waves. A surfer who doesn't smoke uses oxygen three times more efficiently than a non-smoker who doesn't swim or ride waves.

Have you quit smoking? Eat more apples, tuna, peanuts, corn, lemons, and oranges. Stay away from smoking environments, walk, run, swim, and drink large amounts of water to expel mucous. Your lung function will be improved by 30% in a period of between 14 days and 12 weeks after quitting.

One week after quitting, you will be catching more waves, and have more lung power to cope. Shortness of breath subsides in one to nine months. Here's what else will happen to your surfing life:

20 minutes: your blood pressure decreases
8 hours: amount of carbon monoxide in blood drops back to normal
48 hours: your nerve endings start to regenerate; smell and taste is enhanced
72 hours: your body gets rid of nicotine
2-3 weeks: lung are clearer, breathing is easier
1-3 months: inhale/exhale function is greatly improved
1-9 months: shortness of breath decreases
12 months: overall lung function improves dramatically
5 years: stroke risk reduced to that of a non-smoker
10 years: danger of lung cancer is less than half that of a smoker

Surfers aged over 35 will notice increased problems in the respiratory system. It's a matter of making choices. Want to surf more? Choose life, choose waves. Quit smoking and enjoy the ocean.

Brad Spencer, Annissa Flynn, and Daniel Tarapchak have taken out the 2018 World Flowboarding Championships, in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

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