Extra exercise has been linked to reduced compulsions to reach for a cigarette in people who suffer from depression.

People diagnosed with depression already step out for a cigarette twice as much as smokers who aren’t dealing with a mood disorder, according to a study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

Anxiety, cravings, and lack of sleep that might lead a depressed person back to cigarettes is easier for a person to deal with if he or she doesn’t have a mood disorder.

But the 18-month study found that even the most basic exercise, like taking regular walks, helped reduce withdrawal symptoms.

“The review should be seen as a call to arms,” says study co-author Grégory Moullec, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher affiliated with Concordia’s Department of Exercise Science. “Our hope is that this study will continue to sensitize researchers and clinicians on the promising role of exercise in the treatment of both depression and smoking cessation,” adds first author Paquito Bernard,PhD of the University of Montpellier in France.

For people struggling to quit, the research also sheds light on how that struggle might reveal depression that has not been adequately diagnosed, or diagnosed at all.

The study concluded that while more research needs to be done to examine the link between smoking, exercise, and depression, it may be beneficial for doctors and health professionals to recommend physical activity to help with quitting.