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How to get a stubborn spouse to exercise

Build muscle, lose weight, improve mood, prevent disease, live longer. The benefits of exercise are so crystal clear. So why is it such a struggle to get a loved one to work out? Why don't they get it?

Even armed with the most rational argument, behavior change takes a few more ingredients. If your coaxing is going ignored, employ these three strategies to get a hard-headed husband or wife (or any other family member) to get to your local North Myrtle Beach gym or fitness center!

Lead by example

Before you judge your partner's habits, activity level or weight, look first to yourself. Are you leading by example? Could you make improvements as well? By living and breathing your own healthy lifestyle, you'll have a big influence on your loved one.

In a study of middle-aged married couples, researchers discovered that, over several years' time, 70 percent of men started to adopt their wives' exercise habits. (Vice versa, if the husband was the exerciser in the relationship, over time, 40 percent of the wives would begin to follow suit.) Great news!

Despite your best intentions, voicing your concerns can come off as critical or judgmental. Instead, bite your tongue. If you want to inspire your partner to live healthier, you can start by ramping up your own routine. Don't tell; show.

Start by making healthier meals and eating better. Wake up early to hit the gym, or go after dinner. Eventually, he or she will join you.

Appeal to emotion

You can list health benefits of exercise until you're blue in the face, but your logical arguments will fall on deaf ears if the listener is unwilling to receive and process the information. Ring any bells?

It's the truth: Active people live longer than inactive people (a pretty compelling reason in itself). But taking the emotional approach with your partner can be very persuasive — it's no secret that emotions drive decisions.

Have a conversation about what his or her health means to your combined future. Maybe it's your 50th wedding anniversary, watching a grandchild grow up, or staying able-bodied enough to do what you love into old age.

Make it clear to your partner that you are not looking for a bikini model or a bodybuilder — you just want him or her to be able to enjoy a quality of life that allows the greatest possibilities.

Make fitness a partner activity

What sounds more appealing: "boot camp treadmill time weight loss" or "active relationship enrichment?" If your partner isn't fond of fitness, position your new endeavor as a way to get closer and reconnect, not necessarily to lose weight or get fit.

  • Go to the gym and "walk and talk" around the track.

  • Make new friends by joining a group fitness class like a Yoga, Pilates or Zumba class with others in your age group.

  • Sign up for a 5K race, and share in the joint accomplishment.

  • Take a dance class for stress relief and quality time with your partner.

  • Get a dog, walk a neighbor's pet, or volunteer at an animal shelter — the responsibility of having an animal depend on you is great motivation for increased exercise!

Studies show that social support is very effective in facilitating behavior change. Be your partner's "workout buddy" and make sure he or she receives a continual stream of support from you and other family members. As Marvin Gaye said, "It takes two, baby!"

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