The study, which was conducted in West Virginia, followed 233 smokers ages 14-19, many of whom had started smoking as young as age 11. Three months into the program, 10 percent of boys who had received a 10-week smoking cessation program had quit. Of the boys who received the 10-week program plus a physical exercise regimen, 24 percent had quit smoking.
The data did not explain why a gender divide would exist, but Dr. Horn speculated that a few things could be responsible. Teenage boys are generally more enthusiastic about engaging in vigorous exercise, and are "more confident in their ability to be physically active," [the study's lead author Dr. Kimberly] Horn said, while physical activity levels typically plummet as teenage girls get older.
"It's puzzling to us; it was a surprise finding," she said. "I think we also need to look at issues of self-confidence. It could be the girls started with some stronger fitness barriers to overcome than boys."
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