I had a very interesting conversation with my uncle the other day who said to me that if it wasn’t for smoking he would have died from work related stress many years ago. I agree with him to some degree. My uncle has been retired for nearly 20 years but was formerly a CFO at a large mining company. He quit smoking 10 years ago after experiencing complications with a routine operation and his cardiologist recommending he quit. 

I asked him how he thought he would go in today’s working environment. He said he would not be able to cope with work related stress as no one can smoke anymore and it was the only thing that saved him at the time. It reminded me of a conversation I had with a former psychology university lecturer of mine who said everything about smoking is good for your health except for the cigarette.  

Here are a few reasons why 

  • Sitting is a lethal activity: sitting for long periods of time has made us dumb, weak, stupid and fat. Having a ‘smoko’ would give people a reason to step away from their desk every couple of hours, stretch their legs and go outside to clear their mind. 
  • Breathe deeply: when we become stressed our sympathetic nervous system kicks in (flight or fight response) and our body starts to increase its levels of cortisol and adrenaline. Two hormones which if in your body for prolonged periods of time without a break can become toxic to your health. Smoking forces you to slow down your breathing by taking long slow deep breathes and restore your hormones to resting levels. It’s a shame the cigarette is full of nicotine and chemicals designed to do the opposite. 
  • Reconnect: we have become so connected to our electronic devices that we have disconnected from each other. The smokers’ corner was renowned for being the best place to have a great conversation with your fellow smokers and colleagues. By simply expressing how you feel you de-clutter the mind and reduce any pent up emotional stress. 

When it comes to personal trainers, my uncle thinks that I just make people run up and down stairs all day. The way I decided to explain it to him the other day was that as a personal trainer, I have become the smoking without the cigarette. That a majority of the time I try to slow people down rather than speed them up. My aim is to have people feeling better by the end of a session than what they did when they started. This often involves just getting them moving, slowing down their breathing and engaging in meaningful conversations. Bring back the smokos’ but without the cigarettes!