A spouse may be the best source of inspiration when it comes to exercise, a new study finds.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers examined records from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, which examined 15,792 middle-aged subjects in four states, starting in 1987. Each participant in the study was subject to a pair of medical visits, six years apart, during which they were asked about their levels of physical activity.

Investigators found that when one spouse adopts an exercise routine, the other is more likely to become more active as well. This suggests that health care professionals who are trying to encourage clients to increase exercise levels may be well-advised to counsel both people in a relationship.

"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. 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," Laura Cobb, one of the study researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said.

Most people should take part in an average of 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week, according to the American Heart Association. During the initial medical visit of the ARIC study, around 33 percent of wives and 45 percent of husbands were taking part in the recommended levels of exercise, according to researchers.

Husbands in the study were found to be 70 percent more likely to take part in the suggested levels of exercise by the time of their second visit. That improvement was seen in 40 percent of women whose husbands participated in the recommended levels of exercise.

"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," Cobb said.

Obesity is a major health concern in the United States and around the globe. Exercise, along with a healthy diet, is considered to be the healthiest way for most people to lose weight. Packing on too many pounds can lead to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Exercise is often able to reduce these risks, in addition to the health benefits providing by maintaining a healthy weight. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that people start an exercise routine slowly, in order to reduce the risk of injury.

Photo: Steve Baker | Flickr

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.