Behavior change can be exceptionally hard, even after a traumatic health event that would signal an urgent need for a lifestyle adjustment.

For heart attack survivors with a partner or spouse at home, finding success in a weight loss program might be easier if the partner/spouse also participates, according to research announced at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2020.

“Our study shows that when spouses join the effort to change habits, patients have a better chance of becoming healthier – particularly when it comes to losing weight,” according to study author Lotte Verweij.

The study researched the impact of partner participation for three types of lifestyle interventions: weight loss, physical activity, and smoking cessation.

Notably, the study did not discover a positive relationship between partner participation and success in either the physical activity or smoking cessation interventions.

“These lifestyle issues might be more subject to individual motivation and persistence, but this hypothesis needs more investigation,” said Ms. Verweij.

Why It Matters

Although just one study, the findings underscore the challenge of creating a physical activity intervention that leads to sustainable positive improvement. Surely, for some people, having a partner alongside makes a huge difference. For others, it makes no difference. Motivation remains highly individualized.