Taking it to the Limit: High Endurance Sports and Smoking

Smoking can lead to numerous respiratory illnesses and decreased oxygen in the blood, which leads to fatigue, and a breakdown in stamina. We are asking that athletes come together to help end this vicious cycle, and lead the charge for our nation’s youth.

High endurance sports are where athletes come to push themselves to the absolute limit. They push themselves past the breaking point, surpassing the aptitude of an average human body, and becoming something else entirely. They become extreme athletes.

Cycling, swimming, track and field, boxing, Nordic skiing, soccer, tennis, hockey – these are some examples of sports that are absolutely high endurance. To step into these arenas means to give it your all, and then give it some more. These sports are not for the faint of heart.

In light of these limits which must be surpassed and the barriers which must be broken, there is a culprit in the midst that is holding back some of the best and brightest. It is a harbinger of failure, and a herald of defeat. Smoking causes numerous illnesses and diseases, and further prevents athletes from reaching their maximum potential of endurance.

The Impact of Smoking

Among the various illnesses and diseases caused by smoking, respiratory disease can prove to be one of the most debilitating – especially in the case of high endurance sports athletes. According to the CDC, smoking is one of the main causes of emphysema, COPD, and chronic bronchitis. These lung deficiencies put a cap on the exertion the lungs can endure, or permit.

These debilitating lung diseases can severely limit your potential by handicapping your ability to push yourself past the limits to become an extreme athlete. Shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, and even asthma can result. When blood oxygen levels are low, your muscles are not nourished. Your body needs oxygen in order to function optimally. When muscles, your heart, and even your brain is deprived of oxygen, your stamina breaks down and fatigue sets in.

The Cause

Remember, when one chooses to smoke, they are not only affecting themselves. In the short-term, smoking affects everyone in the vicinity. Second-hand smoke exposure contributes to the 440 plus thousand deaths from smoking each year. Second and third-hand smoke also contributes to the illnesses of nearly 8.5 million people, as well.

In the long-term, smoking can affect even more people. Depending on your status in the high endurance sports community, your example can lead to thousands of our nation’s youth deciding to smoke. This not only damages their future, but also causes a ripple effect that can affect households, families, and friends.

The cause revolves around putting an end to the vicious cycle smoking causes. It can end a child’s future before it even begins, and may take with it their dreams of being an extreme athlete one day. It is not only for the betterment of others, but the betterment of ourselves. Quitting now can give you the boost you have been looking for that will send you over the edge, and through that final barrier.


We are asking that all extreme athletes that partake in high endurance sports come together. Whether you are an amateur or professional athlete, in training or retired – every hand is needed to turn this final goal into a reality. Smoking is on the decline, but more needs to be done to finally eradicate this dream stealer. By joining together for this cause, countless lives can be saved and countless futures may be restored. As extreme athletes are known for going the distance, we are asking these same athletes to see this through – to go the distance as a group. To fight this battle, high endurance will be needed, however, united, we can make a difference.