It takes two to be healthy
Feel like you’re slipping on your New Year’s resolution already? Enlist your partner to get back on track, says a new study.
University College London researchers looked at the lifestyle habits of over 3,700 couples over age 50 who were part of the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing. They found that when couples worked together to give up smoking, start exercising or to lose weight, success rates were higher than when one half of the couple had to go it alone.
Study leaders looked at couples in which at least one person was a smoker, overweight or physically inactive. Smokers were between 48 and 50 percent successful in quitting when their partner tried to also, compared with 8 percent when the partner didn’t. About two-thirds those embarking on a new fitness regimen stuck with it when joined by their partner, compared to about a quarter who exercised solo.
Diet success was quantified by the loss of at least 5 percent of a person’s body weight. A quarter of men with partners who lost weight also dropped pounds, while 10 percent lost weight when their partners didn’t. For women, 36 percent lost weight when their partner did the same, while just 15 percent of women lost weight on their own.
The study was published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Researchers didn’t delve into the reasons behind their findings, but the study’s senior author, Jane Wardle, speculated that social support was a key factor.
“Maybe there might also be an element of competition,” Wardle said in news release.
Whatever the reason, the results are encouraging, said Dr. Jennifer DeBruler, an Advocate Medical Group physician practicing internal medicine at Advocate Condell Medical Center.
“If you’re adopting healthy habits to support your partner, you’re doing yourself a favor as well,” she said.
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