Push for Wellness: Make Sure Your Spouse Exercises, Too

crowdedmarathon1-620x465How much can others influence our desire to stay fit? According to a new study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the answer is a lot.

The new research found that “if one spouse improves his or her exercise regimen, the other spouse is significantly more likely to follow suit.”

Said Laura Cobb, a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health doctoral student and co-author of the research: “When it comes to physical fitness, the best peer pressure to get moving could be coming from the person who sits across from you at the breakfast table. There’s an epidemic of people in this country who don’t get enough exercise and we should harness the power of the couple to ensure people are getting a healthy amount of physical activity.”

According to the Baltimore Sun: “Cobb and her colleagues analyzed data from an Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, which followed adults ages 45 to 65 years old in the late 1980s and early 1990s. During the study, researchers asked more than 3,200 couples about their physical activity levels at two medical visits held about six years apart.”

“Using data from the ARIC study, Cobb and her colleagues found when a wife met the recommended exercise levels during both medical visits, her husband — who did not meet the recommended levels during his first visit — was 70 percent more likely than a husband with a less physically active wife to meet those levels by the follow-up visit.”

Of course, this is not the first study to review the connection between close relationships and fitness. The New York Times writes: “The results of past studies on this subject have been alternately predictable and startling. Single men and women, for instance, generally exercise far more than do married people, although divorce can change that. Men typically exercise more after a marriage ends; women in that situation frequently exercise less. Meanwhile, employed men, even those with desk jobs, usually exercise more than men who are unemployed.”