Put the “buddy system” to work with these health goals.
You spend a lot of time with your partner—especially if you share a home. Because of this, your partner can have a big impact on the success of your health goals. Studies on fitness programs have found that people who join with a spouse are more likely to stick to the program longer and have better attendance, compared to those who join without a partner. Let’s face it: The buddy system works.
You hear a lot about exercising with your partner, but you can take your coupled-up health goals so much further. If you’re looking to challenge yourself and improve your health, get on the same page and commit to these goals together:
1. Have meals together at the dining table … no tech allowed.
If you’re like many couples these days, you may have a habit of eating dinner on the couch while watching TV, or even on your bed while watching Netflix. Unfortunately, this can lead to mindless munching and overeating. (Have you ever noticed how quickly a plate of food disappears while you’re engrossed in a TV show?)
Instead, practice mindful and leisurely eating with your partner. Sit at the dining table, put your phones away, set your fork down between bites, and use mealtime as an opportunity to connect.
2. Pick a fitness class to attend together.
You already know that workout buddies help you stick to exercise. Instead of vaguely discussing “exercising together,” commit by signing up for a class. Experiment with different types of exercise: rock climbing, barre, pilates, cycling, salsa dancing, aerial yoga, etc.
You won’t just be improving your strength and endurance: You’ll also likely increase the bond you have with your significant other.
3. Agree to keep soda out of the house.
It’s okay to treat yourself to an occasional soda, such as when eating out or on special occasions. However, keeping your fridge stocked with cola increases the chances that you’ll quench your thirst with sugar-sweetened beverages on the regular. A daily soda habit adds tons of sugar and empty calories to your diet (and diet soda isn’t the solution).
It can be tough to give up soda on your own if your partner still has soda in the fridge, so this is a great pact to make as a duo.
4. Communicate about sex.
You know this already, but sex can deepen your relationship *and* comes with health benefits for your mind and body. (Learn more about the health effects of sex here.)
That said, “having more sex” isn’t always the key to success. After all, you may already be hitting the sheets frequently, or you’re both already satisfied with the amount of bedtime romps you’re having. What many couples forget to do is to talk openly about their desires for the bedroom: what you like, don’t like, need, and want to try.
5. Set “quiet hours” in your home.
A noisy TV can obviously disturb your partner’s sleep, but even if you go to bed at the same time, it can be beneficial to commit to a quiet home in the hour or two before bedtime. To help you relax before bed, agree to keeping volume levels low and avoid bright or flashy lights. This makes it easier to fall asleep when it’s time—or respects the person who hits the hay a little earlier.
Bonus: In addition to helping improve your sleep quality, you might also prevent some resentment from building if one person tends to be a little too noisy in the evening.
Want more tips on setting health goals?
8 steps to mindful eating. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, 2016. (Accessed on January 2, 2020 at https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/8-steps-to-mindful-eating.)
Healthy habits for healthy families. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. (Accessed on January 2, 2020 at https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/healthy.)
How do I talk to my partner about sex? Planned Parenthood. (Accessed on January 2, 2020 at https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/sex-and-relationships/sex/how-do-i-talk-my-partner-about-sex.)
Osuka Y, Jung S, Kim T, Okubo Y, Kim E, Tanaka K. Does attending an exercise class with a spouse improve long-term exercise adherence among people aged 65 years and older: a 6-month prospective follow-up study. BMC Geriatr. 2017;17:170.
Tips for healthy children and families. American Academy of Family Physicians. (Accessed on January 2, 2020 at https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-healthy-children-and-families/.)
Wallace JP, Raglin JS, Jastremski CA. Twelve month adherence of adults who joined a fitness program with a spouse vs. without a spouse. J Sport Med Phys Fit. 1995 Oct;35(3):206-13.