Previous studies have shown that married individuals are more likely to eat healthier meals if their spouse eats healthfully as well, Now, a new study from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Medicine claims the same effect can be seen in exercise.
Currently, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans established by the US Department of Health and Human Services suggest that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (of the aerobic quality) each week or 75 minutes of vigorous-exercise.
Unfortunately, reports have found that less than half of American adults actually meet these guidelines. Common excuses include being too busy, unable to afford a gym membership or ignorant about what to do once the dumbbells and weighted vest are purchased. But the Johns Hopkins researchers suggest that by counseling married couples and encouraging them to exercise together, this intervention alone could increase exercise participation among the adult population.
As Laura Cobb, a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins and a co-author of the study said in a statement, “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…we should harness the power of the couple to ensure people are getting a healthy amount of physical activity.”
In order to arrive at their conclusion, Cobb and her colleagues studied the medical records of over 3,000 spouse pairs who were part of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, a research program that began in 1987.
The spouse pairs recorded two medical visits with physicians approximately six years apart as reported by Medical News Today. Importantly, the authors found that on the second visit, men were 70 percent more likely to meet recommended exercise guidelines if their wives were active, compared to those whose wives were not.
This finding is significant because it also points to a cost-effective health intervention that could help millions of Americans. Lack of exercise is associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and premature death among other aliments. If seeing your spouse encourages you to exercise and vice versa, those extra minutes spent pounding the payment could save your life or at least significantly improve your health.
(Photo courtesy of Christopher)