Keeping clients motivated can be a challenge. Fitness professionals know it is often easier if a client’s partner is also making fitness and health improvements. New research backs this up.

The primary purpose of this first-of-its-kind study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine (doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.7554), was to determine the effects—if any—of one partner’s health behaviors on the other. To determine this, the report’s authors analyzed data for 3,722 married or cohabitating couples, aged 50 and older, who were enrolled in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. People were considered for the study if they smoked, were physically inactive or were overweight. “We used logistic regression analysis to examine the influence of the partner’s behavior
in the same domain on the odds of positive health behavior change over time,” the authors explained.

The researchers found that men and women were more likely to give up smoking, become physically active or lose weight if their partner made the same change. “For smoking and physical activity,” the authors added, “having a consistently healthy partner also predicted positive change, but for each domain, the odds were significantly higher in individuals with a newly healthy partner than [in] those with a consistently healthy partner.”

Clients who are not in a relationship can enjoy some of the same benefits by finding an exercise buddy.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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