For some people, poor heart health comes from a lack of access to good information, and getting on the right track is a matter of education. Many of us, however, know what we should be doing to keep our hearts healthy—getting aerobic exercise, staying away from certain foods, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, and so on—but we still have trouble making the necessary changes. If this sounds like you, it might not just be your habits that are the problem. You might want to look at your partner’s lifestyle too.
A recent study of over 5,000 couples found that, in almost 80% of the relationships, participants shared poor or “non-ideal” heart health with their spouses. Even more striking: members of couples’ dietary habits overlapped 95% with one another, and their smoking habits overlapped 86%. So if you’re in a couple and your heart’s at risk, it might be time for some teamwork.
“Rather than thinking about interventions for individuals, it may be helpful to think about interventions for couples or whole families,” Samia Mora, M.D., one of the study authors, told the Harvard Gazette.
Of course, if your partner’s not as motivated as you are, the change might need to start with you. Be the inspiration. As Mora explains, “It’s important for people to think about how their health and behaviors may influence the health of the person(s) they are living with. Improving our own health may help others.”
Consider setting aside time for you and your partner to sit down and make a plan for developing heart-healthy routines together, such as exercising and eating the right foods on a regular basis. After all, when it comes to wellness, your significant other can be your greatest obstacle or your greatest ally. For more on how to keep your twosome as healthy as possible, be sure to check out 10 Surprising Ways Your Relationships Are Influencing Your Health.