If you're looking to quit smoking, exercise more, or change any other habits for the better, it turns out there's one trick that makes you way more likely to succeed. Turns out, people quit smoking more successfully if their partner quits with them. At least, that's what science says. Because as long as science was going to keep telling us we need to make all these changes, it really was the least they could do to provide some advice for how to go about it.
According to a paper published in JAMA Internal Medicine, "Men and women are more likely to make a positive health behavior change if their partner does too." The study in question was conducted using older participants (age 50 or over), but it stands to reason that the effect could be seen among all age groups. After all, when you're close with someone, their behavior is bound to affect you, and if you feel like you're part of a team, you're more likely to feel your goals are achievable than if you're going it alone.
Plus, you know, not having to watch someone else smoke that cigarette you've been craving all day is probably helpful for the whole willpower thing.
The study, which used data from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging, found that among married and cohabiting couples who participated in the study, only 8 percent of those who were partnered up with smokers were successfully able to quit. But when both partners quit, success rates jumped to almost half.
The researchers also saw a similar pattern when it came to increasing physical activity. For people going it alone, only about 25 managed to exercise more, long term. But among people whose partners also tried to increase their physical activity, about 70 percent were successful. Both trends held true for men and women.
It's entirely possible that these results are more pronounced in older participants than they might be among younger couples, given that younger people have probably not been in their relationships quite so long and are thus less attuned to the habits and behaviors of their partners. Still, the theory still remains sound.
So the moral of the story is that if you're planning on making any changes to your habits, enlisting your significant other could mean the difference between success and failure. Good luck!