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Couples more likely to get healthy if it's a joint effort

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According to scientists at the British Heart Foundation and the National Institute on Aging, couples over the age of 50 are far more likely to stick to healthy living habits if both people in the relationship are committed to change.

Behaviors like quitting smoking, becoming more active, and losing weight were studied across 3,722 couples who were either married or living together and over the age of 50.

Both men and women were equally affected by their partners' behaviors and both genders were more likely to end or cut back on unhealthy behaviors if their partners made similar changes.

"Now is the time to make New Year's resolutions to quit smoking, take exercise, or lose weight," the study's authors said. "And doing it with your partner increases your chances of success."

Death and Chronic Disease

Jane Wardle, one of the authors of the study said habits that may seem harmless like binge eating or alcohol consumption are some of the leading causes of chronic disease and early death.

"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," Wardle said.

Other research on lifestyle habits suggest that accountability to another person can increase odds of success, even if that person isn't your spouse or partner.

"Getting some support can help people take up good habits," said Dr. Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK's head of health information.

"For example, if you want to lose weight and have a friend or colleague who's trying to do the same thing, you could encourage each other by joining up for a run or a swim at lunchtime or after work. Local support such as stop smoking services are very effective at helping people to quit."

Source: Cancer Research UK