MILLIONS OF PEOPLE around the world are in the process of telling themselves that they need to quit smoking cigarettes. Some succeed in making the move, while others are fine with deluding themselves about their desire to quit.

And while plenty of programs and smoking cessation aids are out there, a new study has shown that the success of quitting may be accelerated by taking a run.

The recent research, which was published in the journal Mental and Physical Activity, followed 168 smokers across Canada who enrolled in the Run to Quit program, which consisted of weekly sessions that had a classroom component as well as an outdoor walking or running regimen that was targeted toward an eventual 5K run. The results showed that out of the enrollees, 72 stayed with the program until the last week, and 37 of the subjects passed a carbon monoxide test that showed they actually quit. A follow-up six months later found that out of those who completed the program, 91% had at least reduced their smoking.

“Even if someone wasn’t able to fully quit, reducing their smoking is great,” said study author Carly Priebe, a postdoctoral fellow in University of British Columbia’s school of kinesiology. “But it’s also about just being active. Most of our sample was new to running, and if it’s something that can become part of their lifestyle then there are health benefits that may counteract some of their smoking behaviors.”