Smoking & Physical Activity Make an Appointment Ask a Question Search Conditions Smoking keeps you from reaching your highest level of athletic performance. Smoking slows your reaction time. Smoking lessens your stamina. Smoking causes coughing and shortness of breath. Smoking decreases the oxygen carrying capacity of your blood. This causes the heart to work harder and increases your heart rate. The muscles have less oxygen and don’t function as well. People who smoke have more colds, sore throats and respiratory infections each year. Smoking delays healing of many common sports injuries. Smoking during the teenage years slows the rate that the lungs grow. Smoking during adolescence causes deficits in lung function consistent with early signs of obstructive airway disease. Reference Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Research and Data: Factsheets: Smoking and Decreased Physical Performance. This information has been approved by Amy Lukowski, PsyD (August 2015).