People are more successful in taking up healthy habits if their partner makes positive changes too, according to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Scientists at UCL funded by Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation, and the National Institute on Aging looked at how likely people were to quit smoking, start being active, or lose weight in relation to what their partner did.

They found that people were more successful in swapping bad habits for good ones if their partner made a change as well.

For example, among women who smoked, 50 per cent managed to quit if their spouse gave up smoking too at the same time, compared with 17 per cent of women whose spouses were already non-smokers, and 8 per cent of those whose spouses were regular smokers.

The study found that men were equally affected by their spouses and were more likely to quit smoking, get active, or lose weight if their spouses made the same behavior change.

The research looked at 3,722 couples over the age of 50.

One of the study authors, said: “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.

Lead author of the study at UCL, said: “Now is the time to make New Year’s resolutions to quit smoking, take exercise, or lose weight. And doing it with your partner increases your chances of success.”

Cancer Research UK’s head of health information, said: “Making lifestyle changes can make a big difference to our health and cancer risk. And this study shows that when couples make those changes together they are more likely to succeed.

“Getting some support can help people take up good habits. 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. And local support such as stop smoking services are very effective at helping people to quit.

“Keeping healthy by not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight and being active can all lower the risk of cancer, and the more people can help and encourage each other the better.”

Dr. Keith & Laurie Nemec’s  comment on “Two are Always Better than One when Restoring Health”:

What is the answer when it comes to changing a habit?  Jesus gave us the answer 2000 years ago.

For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

…every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’  Matt 18 NIV

What this research showed was that husbands and wifes will change habits of stopping smoking, starting exercise and losing weight when they do it TOGETHER!

The study showed women successfully changing a habit 50% of the time if there husband also changed with them. It dropped to 17% if their husband already had changed this habit before on his own. There was only an 8% chance of the habit changing if the women tried to change the habit that the husband was still engaging in.

What is the take home message?  Everyone has negative or health destroying habits that need to be broken and to break them you are going to need support, so what are your options for that support?

  1. Your spouse is the best and first choice because he or she is supposed to be your other half. What this means is they would be willing to lay down their life for you and the real test comes when it feels like dying to break an old nature, flesh habit that is no only stealing your physical health but also blocking your spiritual growth.
  2. A very close relative or friend that wants to also break the same negative habit. A word of caution do not start this with anyone who is not 100% committed to break this bondage no matter what the cost and what pain and suffering has to be endured. It does you no good and some harm to set a goal to lose 25 lbs. with your good friend and find that in two weeks she/he decides it’s just too hard and they quit.
  3. A social group or community group that specializes in breaking this habit. These are not as good but at least there is some accountability.

A final word of encouragement to all of you who either have a spouse that does not want to change or have no one else to turn to. In the 30 years we have been treating patients at Revolution New Medicine we put patients on treatment programs to give them the best chance of healing their health challenges. When we do this we can see how much the spouse really loves their other half. Over the years we have seen the most Christ-filled spouses say “no matter what it costs I want her/him to overcome this and I also want to do the program with her/him and eat the same diet she/he does so we can do it together.”  What was unique about these spouses of our patients is that they truly laid down their life in every way for their other half so that the two would remain one.

With that said always remember and never forget who your first love is?

We have had patients heal with no support from their spouse or anyone else in their life but they did it together with their covenant partner Christ Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit within them. So if you have no one one your side do not concern yourself because you always have three others who will always be there for you and support you in anything that THEY put into your heart: The Father, Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit- Your FAMILY!