A person following a healthy course like quitting smoking, being active, losing weight is more likely if the partner joins to make the positive changes too, found a new study.
Scientists at University College London (UCL) looked at how likely people were to make healthier choices in relation to what their partner did, and 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 percent managed to quit if their partner gave up smoking too at the same time, compared with 17 percent of women whose partners were already non-smokers, and eight percent of those whose partners were regular smokers.
The study found that men were equally affected by their partners and were more likely to quit smoking, get active, or lose weight if their partner made the same behaviour change.
The research looked at 3,722 couples, either married or living together and over the age of 50, who were taking part in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).
One of the study authors, Professor Jane Wardle, director of Cancer Research UK's Health Behaviour Research Centre at UCL said that unhealthy lifestyles had become 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.
The study is published in JAMA Internal Medicine.