APR 08, 2015 10:37 AM PDT

Loving Exercise to Stay Healthier

While some people say that the family that plays together stays together, new research has indicated that the couple that exercises together stays healthy together. Furthermore, the person sitting across from you at the dinner table might be the very person to motivate you to get in shape and stay physically fit.
Couples who exercise together stay with the program and derive other benefits, according to studies.
According to new research, exercising is both good for you and good for your spouse, whether done together or separately. Dr. Silvia Koton of the Department of Nursing at Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, lead investigator Dr. Laura Cobb, and their colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have determined that if one spouse improves his or her exercise regimen, the other spouse is much more likely to do the same. Presented last month at the American Heart Association's EPI/Lifestyle 2015 Scientific Sessions in Baltimore, the study suggests that coaching married couples together instead of individually might be a better approach to helping people boost their physical activity.

As Dr. Koton explained, "It was well known that spouses exhibit similar risky behaviors like smoking and drinking, but it wasn't clear how an individual's level of physical activity was influenced by changes in his or her spouse's level of physical activity. Our study tells us that spouses can have a positive impact on one another in terms of staying fit and healthy over time."

In the course of doing the study, the research team examined records from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. That study, which started in 1987, began following a group of 15,792 middle-aged adults from communities in Maryland, North Carolina, Minnesota and Mississippi. In the current study Dr. Koton and her team examined data from two medical visits conducted approximately six years apart. At each session, the original researchers asked 3,261 spouse pairs about their physical activity levels.

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults ought to be exercising at a moderate intensity for a minimum of 150 minutes per week or at a vigorous intensity for at least 75 minutes per week. During the first visit, 45 percent of husbands and 33 percent of wives met these recommendations. At the six-year follow-up visit, they discovered that when a wife met recommended levels of exercise at the first visit, her husband was 70 percent more likely to meet those levels at subsequent visits than those whose wives were less physically active. Similarly, when a husband met recommended exercise levels, his wife was 40 percent more likely to meet the levels at subsequent visits.

Dr. Koton summarized, "Our findings suggest that physical activity promotion efforts should consider targeting couples. The study of theoretical models and mechanisms, which may explain changes in the levels of physical activity in couples over time, is a promising area for future research."

Other studies show that couples who work out together are 90 percent more likely to stay with the program. Still other studies point out that couples who work out together are more likely to be happier with their relationship and more efficient with their workout time.
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
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