Couples who exercise together tend to stay on their regimen, past studies have shown. But is that because healthy people attract others who share their interests? Michelle Roberts from the BBC highlights a recent study that sought to find out if unhealthy couples would make the same changes to better their health and wellness.
The study took cohabiting couples who had one or more unhealthy habits from smoking to under-exercising. The researchers tracked their behavior for over four years, noting if any of the pairs started exercising more, losing weight, or quitting smoking.
They found that when one half of a couple starting to make a change for the better, the other was likely to follow. Of course, it also helped if one of the two was already healthy. Researchers noted that this arrangement would help to spark change in the other, who may not be as fit. In their study, the researchers provided an example, citing that a smoker was twice as likely to quit if their partner wasn’t a smoker. But the rate rose in situations where both people were smokers and one decided to quit–in those cases other person was 10 times more likely to quit alongside their partner.
Similar results were also reported among less-active couples where one was fit and the other was not as much. The lazier of the two was likely to become motivated to exercise more, but not as much as couples who were both lazy. It would seem seeing someone start from the same point as yourself is an even better motivator to inspire change, and Dr. Sarah Jackson, one of the researchers on the study, explained to the BBC how these results could help inform the public:
“This is important because it shows that if you can target couples or encourage people to involve their partners they may be more likely to succeed. Having the support of someone close seems to help.”
Read more at BBC
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