FRIDAY, March 6, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- If you start an exercise program, it might inspire your spouse to do the same, a new study says.
"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," study co-author Laura Cobb, a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a Hopkins news release.
Researchers examined data from more than 3,200 married couples in Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi and North Carolina who provided information about their physical activity levels at an initial visit, and again six years later.
At the first visit, 45 percent of husbands and 33 percent of wives met the American Heart Association's recommendation that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or at least 75 minutes of intense exercise a week.
Husbands of wives who did the recommended amount of exercise at the first visit were 70 percent more likely to meet those levels at the second visit, compared to husbands of wives who weren't as physically active.
Wives of husbands who did the recommended amount of exercise at the first visit were 40 percent more likely to meet those levels at the second visit, the researchers found.
"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 physical activity," Cobb said.
"We all know how important exercise is to staying healthy. 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," she concluded.
The study was scheduled to be presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Dallas. Research presented at meetings is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to physical activity.
SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, news release, March 5, 2015
-- Robert Preidt
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