What happens to your body when you stop smoking?

When you quit smoking cigarettes, the changes to your body are almost immediate. Within 20 minutes your blood pressure and pulse begin to drop. Within 8 hours carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body and oxygen levels start to increase. After just 48 hours your sense of taste and smell begin to improve. And after a year, your risk of heart disease reduces to half of that of a smoker.

Today we’re taking a closer look at the timeline of positive changes when you quit cigarettes – it just might be the motivation you need to keep going.

Straight Away

After you stop smoking, the changes to your body are almost immediate. There’s a chemical in cigarettes that causes your heart rate to increase - within 20 minutes, your heart rate and pulse will begin to drop to normal levels.

Within 48 hours

The changes within 48 hours – just two days – are even more impressive. Within 24 hours carbon monoxide is eliminated from the body, instantly beginning to decrease your risk of heart attack.

Your lungs also begin to heal and start clearing out mucus as your oxygen levels return to normal. You’ll start finding it easier to breathe, but might also find you’re coughing more than you used to for a short time.

Within 48 hours, nicotine also leaves your system, which is around the time most people start dealing with cravings and feelings of withdrawal. You can prepare yourself for this by using a popular quitting technique or nicotine-replacement product.

Within a month

Stop smoking for 28 days and you’re five times more likely to quit for good. After a month your circulation will also begin to improve and your lungs will continue to heal. You should notice less coughing and much less shortness of breath. You might also find that activities like running and jumping are a lot easier than they used to be.

A month on from quitting smoking withdrawal feelings of anger, anxiety, impatience, insomnia, restlessness, depression and difficulty concentrating will also have subsided - another reason why sticking with it for a month is such an important milestone.

Within a year

A year on from quitting and you’ll see dozens of small improvements to your overall health, not to mention big benefits, too.

The smoker who once had 12 cigarettes a day will save themselves an average of over £2350 in a year – just think of where that money could be going instead.

Your risk of heart disease is also cut in half; after one year compared with that of a smoker, your risk of heart disease is 50% less than it once was.

Five years later

After five years your risk of major disease continues to come down. The risk of suffering a stroke is now on par with that of a non-smoker. Your risk of cervical cancer also falls to that of a non-smoker.

Cigarette-causing cancers like cancer of the mouth, throat and oesophagus are cut in half as well.

10 years later

Lung cancer is a major killer that’s linked to smoking, and after ten years smoke free your risk of death is about half of what it would be if you were still a smoker. The risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas also continue to come down.

After 15 years

Go 15 years smoke-free and you get another exciting milestone. Your risk of coronary heart disease is back on par with that of a non-smoker.