Does this experience sound familiar? You want to get healthy and get moving so you set a great fitness goal for yourself. You are completely committed for a week or two. You hit week three and feel a little less motivated, but you keep slowly working toward your goal. A few weeks later your enthusiasm for your fitness goal is minimal, and you stop working on it all together. You are on to new things.
This experience is common, especially at the beginning of a new year when we are all setting lofty goals. We all want to make positive changes and maintain a healthier lifestyle, but in practice it seems much harder to do alone than we originally thought. But don’t be discouraged, you may be forgetting to include your best ally in the process: your partner.
Researchers at University College London found that you are more likely to meet success with your fitness, weight loss, and habit-breaking goals (like quitting smoking) if your partner shares your goal too.
The team studied the behaviors of nearly 4,000 married and cohabiting middle-aged couples over a four-year period. They found that when one person in the couple made a healthy lifestyle change, the other person was more likely to adopt the change as well. For example, when they looked at changes in physical activity they saw that “66% of physically inactive women and 67% of physically inactive men successfully increased physical activity when their partner was doing the same.”
The extra support of a partner, be it your spouse, significant other, family member, or close friend, really makes a difference. When you set your fitness goals together, you can motivate each other and have a lot of fun too. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Try a sport or activity that requires two people: Head outside or to a climbing gym for an evening of rock climbing and repealing, enroll in a latin or ballroom dance class, or try tennis or racquetball.
- Start a tradition of evening walks: Instead of unwinding at home after a long day, head outside with your partner for evening walks. You will be exercising as well as strengthening your relationship.
- Have fun, small competitions: Make exercising with you partner a game. Try seeing who can run a sprint faster or make the most baskets in a row on the basketball court. Remember though not to get so competitive that it strains your relationship.
- IIntroduce new activities to your partner: Are there some activities you always wanted to try but didn’t want to do them alone? Now is your chance! Invite your partner to join a Zumba class with you or sign up for a fun 5K race for charity together.
Explore our LiVe Well website for more fun ideas that you can do with a partner. Remember, it is important to not only plan what you are going to do together but also when you will do it. Set up a schedule or make dates in advance so that you know what is in store.
By including someone who you already enjoy spending time with, you are making your fitness goals that much easier to reach. That extra support can make all the difference.