Charles Sturt University (CSU) research has provided new insight into the impacts of smoking and exercise on the brain and immune system.
The research by PhD graduate Dr Tegan Kastelein from CSU's School of Exercise Science, Sport and Health found that tobacco smoking potentially reduces brain oxygenation and may inhibit the beneficial immune responses of exercise.
"My research involved six separate studies," Dr Kastelein said. "I looked at the impact of smoking and exercise on cerebral oxygenation, heart rate variability and immune-inflammatory response markers.
"Previous research has mainly focused on chronic smokers or people who've been smoking for more than 30 years.
"What makes my research unique is that it also examines the impacts on current smokers and those who've been smoking for less than five years, as well as examining the impacts of exercise."
Near-infrared spectroscopy was used to determine the effect of tobacco smoking and exercise on cerebral oxygenation in smokers and non-smokers.
Blood samples were also analysed for to examine the immune inflammatory responses.
Dr Kastelein's research showed differences between the smoker and non-smoker groups and between those with a shorter and longer smoking history.
"I found that during smoking there's a desaturation of brain oxygen," Dr Kastelein said.
"Exercise triggers a beneficial response from our immune system and my study showed that smoking suppressed that response.
"The research also indicates that exercise produces favourable cardiac responses in people who are smokers.
"I'd like to continue research in this area and I'm particularly interested investigating how those key indicators are affected when people stop smoking and start exercising.
"The impact of electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine and other chemicals to the smoker via an aerosol vapour, is another area of interest."
Dr Kastelein was awarded her PhD, The effects of tobacco smoking and exercise on cerebro vascular responses, oxidative stress and systemic inflammation; the influence of age and smoking status during a graduation ceremony in Bathurst in December 2016.
Her research has been published in the journals, Human & Experimental Toxicology and Frontiers in Immunology.