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Imagine that: Examining the Influence of Exercise Imagery on Cigarette Cravings and Withdrawal Symptoms

  • L.M. Cooke (a1), L. Fitzgeorge (a2), C.R. Hall (a1) and H. Prapavessis (a1)


Evidence highlights that an acute bout of exercise can contribute to reductions in cravings and withdrawal symptoms. However, it is unknown how low in intensity or movement one can go before these effects no longer exist. The current study examined if exercise imagery could contribute to reductions in smoking cravings and withdrawal symptoms after a short period of abstinence (CO≤6ppm). Regular smokers (N = 29) were randomized into one of three treatment groups: exercise imagery, moderate intensity exercise, or control. Each completed questionnaires including: the Strength of Desire to Smoke item (primary outcome) and the Mood and Physical Symptoms Scale (Secondary outcomes) pre- and post-treatment. A 3 (Condition) by 2 (Time) repeated measures ANOVA showed a medium non-significant interaction effect (partial η2 = .06) favouring the exercise group for reductions in desire to smoke. A large significant interaction effect (partial η2 = .24) was found for tension. Medium-to-large non-significant interaction effects favouring the exercise group were found for various withdrawal symptoms. These data, taken together, suggest that exercise imagery is not as powerful as moderate intensity exercise in reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms following temporary abstinence. Implications and future directions are discussed.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Craig Hall, School of Kinesiology, Thames Hall/3M Centre, The University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond St. London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 3K7. E-mail address:


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