When one spouse improves exercise
program, the other seems to follow
Epidemic of those who do not get
enough exercise may improve with couples counseling
6, 2015 – For most married couples this new research is probably not a
surprise. It concludes that if one spouse improves his or her exercise
program, the other spouse is significantly more likely to do the same.
The researchers conclude that a better approach to helping people boost
their physical activity to improve health might be to counsel married
couples together instead of individually.
New research led finds that if one
spouse improves his or her exercise regimen, the other spouse is
significantly more likely to follow suit.
The findings by the Johns Hopkins
Bloomberg School of Public Health were presented yesterday at the
American Heart Association's EPI/Lifestyle 2015 Scientific Sessions in
"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," says Laura Cobb, a Johns
Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health doctoral student and co-author
of the research.
"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
The researchers examined records
from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, which in 1987
began following a group of 15,792 middle-aged adults from communities in
Maryland, North Carolina, Minnesota and Mississippi. Cobb and her team
analyzed data from two medical visits conducted roughly six years apart,
beginning between 1987 and 1989. At each visit, the researchers asked
3,261 spouse pairs about their physical activity levels.
The American Heart Association
recommends that adults should exercise at a moderate intensity for a
minimum of 150 minutes per week or at a vigorous intensity for at least
75 minutes per week. Forty-five percent of husbands and 33 percent of
wives in the study group met these recommendations at the first visit.
They found 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. When a husband met recommended
exercise levels, his wife was 40 percent more likely to meet the levels
at follow-up visits.
"We all know how important exercise
is to staying healthy," Cobb says. "This study tells us that one spouse
could have a really positive impact on the other when it comes to
staying fit and healthy for the long haul."
"Physical Activity among Married
Couples in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study" was
conducted by Laura K Cobb, Job G Godino, Elizabeth Selvin, Anna
Kucharska-Newton, Josef Coresh and Silvia Koton.
The Atherosclerosis Risk in
Communities Study is carried out as a collaborative study supported by
the National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung, and Blood
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