Exercise Facilitates Smoking Cessation Indirectly via Improvements In Smoking-Specific Self-Efficacy: Prospective Cohort Study Among a National Sample of Young Smokers

Document Type


Publication Title

Preventive Medicine

Publication Date



College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Psychology



The purpose of this study was to examine whether exercise is associated with 2-year follow-up smoking status through its influence on smoking-specific self-efficacy.


Longitudinal data from the 2003–2005 National Youth Smoking Cessation Survey were used, including 1,228 participants (16–24 years). A questionnaire was used to examine baseline exercise levels, baseline smoking-specific self-efficacy, follow-up smoking status, and the covariates.


Baseline exercise was associated with baseline self-efficacy (β = 0.04, p < 0.001) after adjusting for age category, sex, race–ethnicity, education, and nicotine dependence. Baseline self-efficacy, in turn, was associated with 2-year smoking status (β = 0.23, p < 0.001) after adjustments. There was no adjusted direct effect of baseline exercise on 2-year smoking status (β = 0.001, p = 0.95); however, the adjusted indirect effect of baseline self-efficacy on the relationship between exercise and 2-year smoking status was significant (β = 0.008, bootstrapped lower and upper CI: 0.002–0.02; p < 0.05). The mediation ratio was 0.837, which indicates that smoking-specific self-efficacy mediates 84% of the total effect of exercise on smoking status.


Among daily smokers, exercise may help to facilitate smoking cessation via exercise-induced increases in smoking-specific self-efficacy.