Lifestyle changes don’t come easily. For better or worse, most of us are creatures of habit, which is great when it’s a habit that’s good for us. But, when we’re trying to lose weight, kick unhealthy habits or start a new healthy habit like exercise, it’s not so great. But, if you want to improve your odds of success, researchers in England can offer this nugget: Get your significant other to do it with you.

According to a new study, men and women alike are far more likely to succeed in making a lifestyle change if their husband or wife partakes too. In fact, the benefit is striking.

For example, if your spouse chooses to join you on your weight loss journey, your odds of slimming down increase by 3-fold. And, if your spouse chooses to become more physically active with you, you’re 5x more likely to add exercise to your weekly routine. And, if your spouse chooses to quit smoking too, your odds of success increase by a factor of 11!

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Another interesting insight was that, generally, smokers were married to smokers, couch potatoes were married to couch potatoes, and if one half of a couple was overweight or obese, the other half was too. “Birds of a feather flock together,” as they say.

And, fortunately, where there were differences, the habits of the healthier person tended to rub off on the other. For instance, if one spouse exercised at least once per week, the odds the other spouse would joining in jumped by a factor of 3.

But, there’s no need to ditch your spouse and run out to find the healthiest person you can because the best-case scenario was when both partners had room for improvement — and then one of them actually did. Then, the other was far more likely to improve too.

The study was based upon 3,722 couples who participated in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and answered questions about a variety of healthy habits every two to four years.

Researchers weren’t able to narrow down exactly why one spouse improving led the other to improve, but they offered some possibilities. One possibility being that both partners resolved to change together. Another possibility being that the success of one partner motivated the other. And of course, there’s the “spillover effect” — if one partner starts to prepare healthy meals, the other will benefit too.

The bottom line: Get your spouse to join and support you in creating new healthy habits because the verdict is in…couples succeed together. And, you’ll both benefit.

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