They say that the couple that plays together, stays together — but what about the couple that sweats together? Well, they get healthier together.
In a study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that men and women shed more weight, get more active and are more successful at quitting smoking when their partners are pursuing the same fitness goals. In fact, men and women were more than twice as likely to lose weight when they teamed up with their significant other compared to going it alone.
Benefits of a Devoted Partner
So how does having a participatory significant other help you reach your health goals? Bonnie and Steve Pfiester, certified personal trainers who have been married for 23 years, think it comes down to three things: accountability, expression of love and bonding.
Left to our own devices, we can easily justify a cheat meal or skipping a workout. “A spouse offers the maximum amount of accountability — they see what’s in your pantry and what you look like naked,” says Steve, who serves as a trainer on such weight-loss reality shows as A&E’s Fit to Fat to Fit, VH1’s Bridal Bootcamp and Fat March on ABC. “On the flip side, a spouse also has the ability to sabotage you more than any other person — it’s incredibly difficult to diet while your other half is digging into a huge bowl of ice cream or drinking your favorite wine.” However, when your spouse is on board, you have someone to help talk you out of sabotaging your success. When one is weak and discouraged, oftentimes, the other one is strong and encouraged.
Expression of love.
Supporting each other is an expression of love. “A healthy, strong marriage requires making sacrifices,” says Bonnie, an NPC Bikini winner Masters Over 40 and Open. “Most married couples recited vows saying, ‘I take you for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.’ Yet many people don’t want that to include ‘for exercise and for diet.’ If you truly love one another, you should support each other even if it requires sacrifice.”
As you strive together toward a goal, you share one more thing in common —you share the same gym culture, lessons, challenges and achievements. “It is also easier to appreciate each other’s efforts more when you experience the same process together,” Steve says. “Committing to a healthier lifestyle also creates more opportunities to spend time together. You don’t have to do the same workout to benefit from going to the gym together; even a car ride to the gym can be a valuable piece of time together in this busy world. Food prep can also be a joint effort and create more moments to connect.”
How to Get Your Other Half on Board
If you want to get your significant other to join you, you’ll need to know how to communicate your needs properly and map out how your partner’s support would look to you. Bonnie and Steve Pfiester offer a few ways to win over your other half:
If All Else Fails
If you don’t have a significant other, or simply cannot talk your partner into participating in your new, healthy lifestyle, that doesn’t give you an excuse to give up. Find a different support system: a friend, trainer, gym members, a support group, neighbor, co-worker or even a Facebook friend.
“If you decide to go it alone, you are setting yourself up for failure because you will be able to fail with no one watching,” Bonnie says. “If you are limited on support, consider blogging about your journey for added accountability. The more people who know what you are doing, the greater chance you have of success.”
Are you a couple that wants to live the fit lifestyle? Join the America's Fittest Couple Challenge 2! For more details, click here.