Why couples who exercise together are more likely to lose weight and stay fit

Couples who train together, stay (healthy) together, as new research shows your choices impact your partner

A married couple exercise together
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Couples who train together, stay together. Whether you share a hobby such as tennis, golf or dance, or you just go running, walking or cycling together to keep fit, exercising as a couple is a great way to turn your fitness routine into quality time with a loved one. 

However, it's not just your relationship that benefits. Research from the experts at Tohoku University, Japan examined Dutch and Japanese marriages and their lifestyle habits. The research found couples not only tended to mirror each other's lifestyle habits, but their body shapes and risk of lifestyle-induced diseases also matched each other quite closely. If all this is striking a chord, it could be time to lace up some of the best running shoes for men, or best running shoes for women – or both – to become a more active couple. 

The researchers examined 5,391 couples from Japan and 28,265 from the Netherlands. They found the couples shared lifestyle traits such as smoking or non-smoking, general weight and BMI, and abdominal circumference. Fit, healthy people were likely to spend more time with other fit, healthy people and vice versa. On the other side, those who had unhealthy habits were more likely to influence their partners to behave the same. 

couple eating healthy together

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The researchers write "Many of the correlations were between couples with low genetic similarity and high lifestyle similarity, suggesting the importance of healthy choices." Even if you're not genetically predisposed to gain weight or behave in the same way, your choices can still impact your partner's health.

Another study, published by the European Society of Cardiology, found study participants lost more weight if they had a spouse or partner who exercised and ate healthy with them. 

It makes sense: if you order take-out and don't exercise, those choices will impact your partner. Likewise, if you cook a healthy meal, you're likely to be cooking it for your spouse as well.

One good trick is to find an exercise you can do together, and a healthy meal you both enjoy. Instead of sitting down in front of your favourite streaming service on a Friday night, we suggest you go for a walk instead. Walking is an easy, low-intensity exercise you can do together, and all you need is a set of comfortable clothes and a pair of the best walking shoes to get started. Make that two pairs, actually.

Matt Evans
Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.