Follow Us

Does Vaping Affect Your Running Endurance?

Does Vaping Affect Your Running Endurance?

Vaping has been touted as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco, but studies have shown it can have detrimental effects on a runner’s endurance. Though further studies need to be done to confirm early reports, the chemicals inhaled from vaping seem to be the culprit in the decrease in athletic performance among vapers.

Tobacco smoking has seen a major decline in recent years, thanks in part to the introduction and popularity of electronic cigarettes in the US in 2007. Otherwise known as e-cigs or vapes, these electronic devices have seen a rise in usage among smokers who wanted to quit, or even among teenagers and young adults who’ve never smoked in their life.

However, studies about the short and long-term effects of vaping have been few and far between. Experts believe it will take decades before we know the true and lasting effects of using e-cigarettes. But what about athletic performance, specifically in the field of running? Does vaping affect a runner’s endurance?

What is vaping?

To understand how vaping affects running endurance, we need to understand what vaping is. Basically, vaping is considered to be a safer alternative to tobacco smoking. Also known as e-cigs, these are small devices that contain a cartridge and battery, and when a user inhales the e-cig, it heats a liquid that contains a number of chemicals, producing vapor or smoke that the user inhales and exhales, very much like smoking a cigarette.

E-cigs do not contain the carcinogens found in tobacco cigarettes, and thus, it is dubbed a healthier alternative. One of which is more acceptable to do indoors. Its popularity has been rising dramatically over recent years. Especially among teens and young adults. Yet, vaping’s ill effects have not been dominantly reported. Studies on long-term effects are basically non-existent, since vaping is relatively new, but experts have revealed it still comes with its own set of risks and impacts to your health.

What happens when you vape?

Before we discuss how it affects a runner’s endurance, we need to understand what happens to your body when you vape.

When you take a puff from your e-cigarette, the battery heats the liquid in the cartridge. The liquid then becomes a mist, which you inhale into your lungs. The mist enters your trachea or windpipe, which then breaks off into your airways. The mist then enters your alveoli, which are the tiny air sacs found in your lungs. This is also the place where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged.

When running, it is important to monitor your heart rate, especially if you are a current or former smoker. Click below to check out the Polar H10 chest strap monitor, which is one of the most accurate HRMs on the market.

Polar H10 Chest Strap Heart Rate Monitor

The problem with vaping, however, does not lie with the puffing of the mist, but rather, in the chemicals found in the liquid. According to the American Lung Association, a typical vape liquid contains the following harsh chemicals:

  • Nicotine – A cardiovascular stimulant
  • Acrolein – A herbicide used to kill weeds
  • Glycol – A common food additive also used in paint solvents and anti-freeze components
  • Diacetyl – A chemical associated with lung disease
  • Benzene – An organic compound found in car exhaust
  • Heavy metals – Including lead, zinc, and nickel

When you inhale the mist containing these chemicals, they affect your body, which can decrease your athletic performance. In terms of running, the effects on your cardiovascular system can affect your endurance, making you tired more easily, and decreasing your ability to handle fatigue.

How Vaping Affects Running Endurance

Now that you know what vaping is and what chemicals are found in the liquid or mist that you inhale as you vape, let’s discuss how it can affect your running endurance. To better understand, let’s break down the components of e-cig liquids and how they affect the body:

Nicotine

One of the major components of e-cig liquids is nicotine. Nicotine is considered to be the most studied bioactive compound in e-cigarette emissions. The most significant physiological effect of nicotine is sympathetic activation since it’s a stimulant. This means that nicotine can increase your heart rate and blood pressure.

When it comes to endurance athletes, their resting heart rate is usually considerably lower than most average people. This allows them to experience a large performance window before they hit their maximum heart rate, allowing them to run for longer distances and extended periods of time. When you vape, nicotine increases your resting heart rate.

For example, if your resting heart rate is at 60, and you vape, nicotine increases your heart rate to 90 or more, and thus, your window to perform becomes smaller. Because your heart is beating faster due to recent vaping, you’ll become tired much quicker, therefore, the harder your run will feel.

Solvents

Acrolein, formaldehyde, and other chemicals found in e-cig liquids can have different effects on your body. Acrolein, for example, has been associated with autonomic imbalance, predisposing you to arrhythmias, which increases your risk of thrombosis. The chemical has also been related to myocardial dysfunction and cardiomyopathy.

In terms of aldehyde exposure, studies have shown it can lead to autonomic dysfunction and oxidative damage. Oxidative damage, for one, can impact your lungs and cardiovascular system, which decreases your stamina and endurance.

Free Radicals

Studies have shown that the free radicals emitted from the chemicals in e-cig liquids are ten times that of air pollution. The promotion of oxidative stress and inflammation from free radicals can increase your risk of thrombogenesis and atherosclerosis.

When you inhale the chemical components emitted from e-cigs, your body will be working harder to clear out the toxins from the smoke in your lungs. With increased heart rate and blood pressure, it will be harder for you to maintain your pace without becoming winded and having to stop to catch your breath. The effects of vaping cause additional stress on your body, thereby, affecting your overall endurance as you run.

Endurance is highly relevant in running and it’s achieved by building your cardiovascular system, which handles the rigors of running. When you become fatigued quicker, you won’t be able to sustain your energy, thus, reducing your overall running performance.

Also, if you’re working on trying to increase your overall running endurance, check out our article here on “How to run 5 miles without stopping“.

Conclusion

Vaping may be touted as a safer alternative to tobacco smoking, but it can still negatively impact your ability to run. The liquids used in vaping contain a number of unregulated ingredients that are often detrimental to your health. With nicotine and other chemicals that affect the cardiovascular system,  running endurance is one of the very first aspects of athletic performance that is affected.

If you want to build your endurance as a runner and maximize your athletic performance, it is suggested that you refrain from tobacco smoking and vaping altogether.