How Long After Quitting Smoking Will My Lungs Return To Normal?

I smoked for 22 years. I just turned 42. I’ve quit. I walk an hour daily and when I can I work out with weights three times a week. Will my lungs come back and how long will it take?

Congratulations on a job well done. You made the decision to quit, followed through, and then launched an exercise program. Along with increasing your lung capacity, you are reducing your risks for cancer, cardiovascular disease and many other diseases and conditions.

The recovery of lung capacity depends on how much and how long a person smoked before quitting. The good news is that the process starts immediately after quitting. You don’t say how long ago you quit, but if you are able to walk briskly for an hour a day and work out with weights, I’d guess your lungs are well on their way back to near-peak operating capacity.

If you were a heavy smoker for 22 years, your lungs may never become what they were before you started smoking. They may get close, though, and your risk of lung cancer should drop to almost that of a non-smoker within 10 or 15 years.

Ten to 15 years may not be soon enough to suit you, but believe me, you’ll feel substantially better soon, if you don’t already. Some people have a rougher time than others with nicotine withdrawal. It may take weeks or possibly months before you really come to appreciate your accomplishment.