Together Through Thick and Thinner

I’m going to take it on faith that you love the one you’re with. So I’m fairly confident that, if you could, you’d extend your partner’s life. That’s a pretty radical sort of good deed, isn’t it? If you’re thinking kidney donation or four-alarm-fire rescue, you’ll be possibly relieved to know that there’s an even easier way to do add years to your beloved one’s life. And you’ll end up helping yourself in the process.

Here’s how: Quit a bad habit – or develop a healthy one – the same time your partner does.

Researchers at University College London recently investigated the lifestyle behaviours of men and women in long-term relationships, and reported some positive findings. They found that if one partner tried to quit smoking, get more exercise or shed a few pounds, they were much more likely to succeed if their mate made the attempt right along with them.

And I mean much more likely. For instance: Women who tried to quit smoking had a low success rate (8%) if their cig-addicted partners kept on smoking. If, on the other hand, their men quit with them, their success shot up to 50%. Compare that to a 17% percent success rate in relationships where the partners never smoked to begin with. That suggests it’s the actual joint effort to break this habit that makes the biggest difference.

Similarly, men and women were more likely to get fit or shed weight if their partner tried to do it with them.

Why does it help? Encouragement and moral support can do wonders, say the researchers. (And maybe a little healthy competition doesn’t hurt, says I.) This CBC report suggests it’s simply a lot more fun to run laps or swim lengths when you’re with a loved one.

If you’re single, don’t despair. Anyone can be your workout buddy, even a neighbour or a co-worker. The point is to have a cheering section.

As for all you supportive partners who are exercising, dieting or slapping on a nicotine patch for your significant other, give yourself a pat on the back. You’re performing an act of kindness that will ensure your better half has a long, healthy future ahead of them. And there’s kickback for you, ’cause you’ll end up improving your own physical condition. Plus, you know that by doing a good deed, you get an emotional lift. It’s not just a win-win situation, it’s a win-win-win-win-win-win…

Photo courtesy of gameanna /

Photo courtesy of gameanna /

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