The Secret to Lasting Lifestyle Changes

lasting lifestyle changes

Having a partner is good for you in more than one way… New research finds that people are more likely to successfully make lasting lifestyle changes if their partner joins them in the change.

Have you ever thought about quitting smoking? Maybe lose a couple of pounds or maybe just start eating healthier? Getting some regular exercise ? Changing these habit might be anything from insanely hard to very challenging. New research from UCL find that successfully making lasting lifestyle changes is easier with a partner!

Lasting Lifestyle Changes with a Partner

The research was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The research investigated the habits of 3,722 couples married or living together over 50 years old. Participants were taking part in the English longitudinal study of Aging (ELSA).

The study found that it’s easier to make lasting lifestyle changes if people had a partner as support when making the change.

Among women smokers wanting to quit trying it alone meant succeeding about 17% of the time if their partners were non-smokers and an even lower 8% if they were smokers. Quitting together with your partner resulted in a much better 50% success rate. Men were equally affected by having supporting partners. They were more likely to succeed quitting smoking, get active and lose weight if their partner made the same change.

For men wanting to exercise more 26% managed the lifestyle change on their own. With the help of a partner that number climbed to 67%, almost  three times as likely to succeed. Women looking for the same change had about the same success rate. Weight loss was harder overall but losing weight was 2.5 times more likely with the support of a partner, for both sexes.

In general, having a partner with healthy habits predicted positive change. Though the greatest effect was seen in partners who had recently become healthy this provided a much greater chance to make positive lifestyle changes for the unhealthy partner.

“Unhealthy lifestyles are a leading cause of death from chronic disease worldwide. The key lifestyle risks are smoking, excess weight, physical inactivity, poor diet, and alcohol consumption. Swapping bad habits for good ones can reduce the risk of disease, including cancer.” – study author Professor Jane Wardle.

Mid January is usually when peoples new years resolutions start to lose steam. Now you know that there’s an option worth considering to help you make good on your promise: get yourself a partner!

It might not be easy, but it can help you drop bad habits and gain healthier ones! And hey, if you fail you still have a partner so… win-win.

Image credit:  Melvin E via flickr.com, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0