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Fixing relationship woes can boost mens’ health, says new research in The Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, which focused solely on the male sex. Researchers from the UK found that in marriages that improved over six years, husbands who became happier had better cholesterol levels, healthier weights, and were less likely to develop heart disease compared to guys who were consistently happy or unhappy with their relationship.
While the researchers didn’t look at physical activity or changes in habits, they do point out that men and women are more likely to make healthier changes if their partner also commits to them. And a study in PLOS ONE found that one person adopting an exercise or diet program can spread to others, creating mutually reinforced healthy habits. “It would be hard to argue against recommending physical activity in almost any instance, so it seems reasonable to say couples can become happier and healthier by exercising more,” says Steven D. Barger, Ph.D., who studies the health effects of marriage at Northern Arizona University.
Try taking a group fitness class with your significant other since making exercise social correlates with greater happiness.And if you prefer to work out solo, that’s okay too. Being fit and in good spirits yourself can help elevate your partner’s mood, and watching your healthy habits may convince them to pick up a few of their own.