Couples who work together on health are more successful
It may be easier to accomplish those healthy New Year goals by getting your partner involved. A University College London study found people are more likely to quit smoking, lose weight and exercise when their partner accompanied them. The findings were published in JAMA.
Researchers analyzed the data of 3,700 middle-age or older couple in the UK who were either married or living together. The participants were involved in a long-term study on aging and filled out questionnaires about their health patterns and behavior for up to a four-year period.
Three categories were focused on by the researchers: smoking, exercising, or losing 5 percent of body weight. When one partner decided to make a positive healthy lifestyle change, it influenced the other partner more than if the partner was already healthy.
Partners who maintained a healthy lifestyle from the beginning were more likely to influence their partner’s choices to quit smoking and exercise compared to if the partner was not healthy. However, this did not impact the success of losing body weight.
When one partner was overweight and the other was not, it did not influence weight loss. However, when both partners were overweight and one lost weight, the other partner was three times more likely to be inspired to lose weight.
The study notes it’s unclear why changing together is a greater motivator for couples to make healthy decisions, but researchers suggest implementing behavior-change programs targeted to couples rather than individuals.