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Better together: The impact of exercising with a romantic partner

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Better together: The impact of exercising with a romantic partner

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Abstract

Many people have goals to increase their physical activity levels through engaging in exercise, but have difficulty establishing and maintaining an exercise routine. Research shows that people are more successful at exercising if they do so together with their romantic partner. In this study, we examined how exercising with a romantic partner may influence the experience of exercise itself, as well as people’s daily experiences. Specifically, we examined how joint exercise influences daily and exercise affect, daily relationship satisfaction, and amount of daily exercise. Young adults who were currently involved in a romantic relationship (N = 95) completed intake questionnaires and 14 daily reports of their exercise behavior, exercise and daily affect, and daily relationship satisfaction. Multilevel models showed that on days when people exercised with their romantic partner, they experienced higher positive affect during exercise, higher daily positive affect, and were more satisfied with their relationship compared to days when they exercised without their partner. No effects were found on daily and exercise negative affect, or amount of exercise. This study illustrates how exercising with a romantic partner may improve people’s experience of both exercising and their daily experiences, and may help provide a reason why people might be more successful at maintaining their exercise routine when they exercise together with their romantic partner.

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... Proximity could also provide unique insight into the mechanisms by which physical activity benefits the health and well-being of couples. Given past findings about the importance of shared exercise (e.g., Sackett-Fox et al., 2021), an understanding of these mechanisms could inform simple and costeffective interventions. Last, measurement of proximity may provide an extra layer of information about the nature of physical closeness in romantic dyads. ...
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Objective: Despite growing appreciation of how close relationships affect health outcomes, there remains a need to explicate the influence romantic partners have on health behavior. In this paper, we demonstrate how an established model of behavior change-the theory of planned behavior (TPB)- can be extended from an individual level to a dyadic (couple) model to test the influence that relationship partners have on a key determinant of health behavior-behavioral intentions. Methods: Two hundred romantic couples (400 individuals) completed TPB measures regarding physical activity for themselves and their romantic partner as well as a measure of relationship quality. Results: Above and beyond the individual-level TPB predictors of behavioral intentions (i.e., attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control), the romantic partner's perceived behavioral control (PBC) regarding physical activity predicted each individual's behavioral intentions and moderated the influence of each individual's PBC on his or her own behavioral intentions. Additionally, the romantic partner's perceptions of each individual's TPB measures predicted each individual's behavioral intentions to be physically active. Quality of the relationship also moderated some partner influences on individuals' intentions. Conclusions: This paper provides a roadmap for integrating a dyadic framework into individual-level models of behavior change. The findings suggest that data from both partners and relationship quality are important to consider when trying to understand and change health-related behavior such as physical activity. The results broaden the potential applications of the TPB as well as our understanding of how romantic partners might influence important health-related practices. (PsycINFO Database Record
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This study examined the characteristics of attachment hierarchies in young adulthood. Multiple components were used to assess attachment bonds: using the attachment figure as a safe haven in times of distress, using him or her as a secure base from which to venture out independently, having a strong emotional tie with the person regardless of whether the tie is positive, negative, or mixed, seeking to be in close proximity to the person, and mourning the loss of the person. The Attachment Network Questionnaire (ANQ) was developed to measure multiple adult attachment relationships and to examine the characteristics of attachment hierarchies. 223 university students completed the ANQ by listing their significant relationships and then ranking these persons in terms of the various components of attachment. A subset of the participants was followed up to examine the one month test-retest reliability of the ANQ. Young adult participants were found, on average, to have 5.38 attachment figures, including family members, romantic partners, and friends. The figures identified included both secure and insecure attachments. In addition, the ANQ demonstrated adequate test-retest reliability over one month.
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Objective: Most research on the interplay of affective and physical feelings states with physical activity in children has been conducted under laboratory conditions and fails to capture intraindividual covariation. The current study used Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) to bidirectionally examine how affective and physical feeling states are related to objectively measured physical activity taking place in naturalistic settings during the course of children's everyday lives. Methods: Children (N = 119, ages 9-13 years, 52% male, 32% Hispanic) completed 8 days of EMA monitoring, which measured positive affect (PA), negative affect (NA), feeling tired, and feeling energetic up to 7 times per day. EMA responses were time-matched to accelerometer assessed moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in the 30 min before and after each EMA survey. Results: Higher ratings of feeling energetic and lower ratings of feeling tired were associated with more MVPA in the 30 min after the EMA prompt. More MVPA in the 30 min before the EMA prompt was associated with higher ratings of PA and feeling energetic and lower ratings of NA. Between-subjects analyses indicated that mean hourly leisure-time MVPA was associated with less intraindividual variability in PA and NA. Conclusions: Physical feeling states predict subsequent physical activity levels, which in turn, predict subsequent affective states in children. Active children demonstrated higher positive and negative emotional stability. Although the strength of these associations were of modest magnitude and their clinical relevance is unclear, understanding the antecedents to and consequences of physical activity may have theoretical and practical implications for the maintenance and promotion of physical activity and psychological well-being in children.
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Habits are automatic behavioural responses to environmental cues, thought to develop through repetition of behaviour in consistent contexts. When habit is strong, deliberate intentions have been shown to have a reduced influence on behaviour. The habit concept may provide a mechanism for establishing new behaviours, and so healthy habit formation is a desired outcome for many interventions. Habits also however represent a potential challenge for changing ingrained unhealthy behaviours, which may be resistant to motivational shifts. This review aims to provide intervention developers with tools to help establish target behaviours as habits based on theoretical and empirical insights. We discuss evidence-based techniques for forming new healthy habits and breaking existing unhealthy habits. To promote habit-formation we focus on strategies to initiate a new behaviour, support context-dependent repetition of this behaviour, and facilitate the development of automaticity. We discuss techniques for disrupting existing unwanted habits, which relate to restructuring the personal environment and enabling alternative responses to situational cues.
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The present study examined the role that health-related social control plays in promoting health-enhancing behavioral reactions among married couples. Health-related social control refers to interactions entailing influence and regulation of health practices. A sample of 109 couples answered questions about their social control interactions during structured phone interviews. Analyses maintaining the couple as the unit of analysis indicated that spouses' reports of more frequent social control overall and the use of positive, bilateral, and direct social control tactics predicted their partners' reports of health-enhancing behavioral reactions.
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Objectives: Spouses may be involved in their partner's diabetes management by providing social support to affirm healthy behaviors and social control to modify health behaviors. Yet, investigations of the influence of spousal involvement on daily patient health behaviors are limited. In daily diaries, we investigated how spousal support and control independently and jointly influence patient physical activity and efficacy to engage in physical exercise on a daily basis. Methods: Older adults (age 55 and older) with Type 2 diabetes and their spouses (N = 70 couples) completed electronic diaries for seven consecutive days that assessed spouse-reported involvement and patient-reported minutes of physical exercise and efficacy to engage in future physical exercise. A subset of patients (N = 53) also wore an activity monitoring device on the wrist that provided a measure of energy expenditure. Results: Multilevel analyses indicated that on a daily basis, spousal support was positively associated with physical activity, whereas spousal control was either unrelated or linked to less physical activity. On days in which spouses provided high levels of both support and control, however, patients felt more efficacious that day about exercising tomorrow and exhibited an increase in energy expenditure on the next day. Conclusions: Findings suggest that spousal exercise support on its own or in conjunction with spousal exercise control may facilitate daily diabetes management through physical activity.
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The research tested the efficacy of planning and partner-based interventions to promote physical activity over six months. Local government (council) employees (N = 257) were randomly allocated to one of four conditions (collaborative implementation intentions; partner-only; implementation intentions; control group) before completing measures at baseline and follow-ups at 1, 3 and 6 months. Outcome measures comprised validated self-report measures of physical activity: the international physical activity questionnaire (IPAQ; Craig et al., 2003) and self-report walking and exercise tables (SWET; Prestwich et al., 2012); psychosocial mediators (enjoyment, intention, self-efficacy, social influence); weight and waist size (baseline and 6 months only). As well as losing the most weight, there was evidence that participants in the collaborative implementation-intention group were more physically active than each of the other three groups at 1-, 3- and 6-month follow-ups. Those in the implementation-intention and partner-only conditions did not outperform the control group on most measures. Collaborative implementation intentions represent a potentially useful intervention to change important health behaviors that help reduce weight.
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Affective well-being in romantic couples was examined from the perspective of interdependence theory. The independent variables were (a) presence of partner, (b) whether an activity met the actor’s goals, and (c) goals of the actor’s partner. Dependent variables were feelings of closeness and affective well-being (happiness, sadness, anger, anxiety). We predicted a three-way interaction with the highest affective well-being when partners are together and activities meet both partners’ goals. In Study 1, data from 194 married individuals who participated in an experience sampling study supported our predictions. Feelings of closeness partially mediated the effect on affective well-being. Study 2 replicated the findings with 112 participants in dating relationships who recalled specific events and made ratings about goals and affective well-being.
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A low cardiovascular disease risk profile (untreated cholesterol <200 mg/dL, untreated blood pressure <120/<80 mm Hg, never smoking, and no history of diabetes mellitus or myocardial infarction) in middle age is associated with markedly better health outcomes in older age, but few middle-aged adults have this low risk profile. We examined whether adopting a healthy lifestyle throughout young adulthood is associated with the presence of the low cardiovascular disease risk profile in middle age. The Coronary Artery Risk Development in (Young) Adults (CARDIA) study sample consisted of 3154 black and white participants 18 to 30 years of age at year 0 (1985-1986) who attended the year 0, 7, and 20 examinations. Healthy lifestyle factors defined at years 0, 7, and 20 included average body mass index <25 kg/m(2), no or moderate alcohol intake, higher healthy diet score, higher physical activity score, and never smoking. Mean age (25 years) and percentage of women (56%) were comparable across groups defined by number of healthy lifestyle factors. The age-, sex-, and race-adjusted prevalences of low cardiovascular disease risk profile at year 20 were 3.0%, 14.6%, 29.5%, 39.2%, and 60.7% for people with 0 or 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 healthy lifestyle factors, respectively (P for trend <0.0001). Similar graded relationships were observed for each sex-race group (all P for trend <0.0001). Maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout young adulthood is strongly associated with a low cardiovascular disease risk profile in middle age. Public health and individual efforts are needed to improve the adoption and maintenance of healthy lifestyles in young adults.
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This research tested whether and how partners' support of self-improvement efforts influences recipients' relationship evaluations and self-improvement success. Study 1 provided an initial test of predictions using self-reports (N = 150). Study 2 assessed support behavior exhibited in couples' (N = 47) discussions of self-improvement desires, and tracked relationship quality and self-improvement every 3 months for 1 year. More nurturing and action-facilitating partner support was more helpful to recipients, whereas partners who criticized and invalidated recipients were less helpful. Receiving more help from the partner, in turn, predicted greater relationship quality and more self-improvement. More negative support seeking also predicted lower self-improvement because recipients' behavior elicited less partner help. These effects were not attributable to partners' general warmth and understanding, global self or relationship evaluations, how much recipients desired or tried to change, or whether targeted attributes posed relationship problems. This research documents the powerful influence that partners' help has on recipients' personal growth.
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Social cognition research indicates that life-satisfaction judgments are based on a selected set of relevant information that is accessible at the time of the life-satisfaction judgment. Personality research indicates that life-satisfaction judgments are quite stable over extended periods of time and predicted by personality traits. The present article integrates these two research traditions. We propose that people rely on the same sources to form repeated life-satisfaction judgments over time. Some of these sources (e.g., memories of emotional experiences, academic performance) provide stable information that explains the stability in life-satisfaction judgments. Second, we propose that the influence of personality traits on life satisfaction is mediated by the use of chronically accessible sources because traits produce stability of these sources. Most important, the influence of extraversion and neuroticism is mediated by use of memories of past emotional experiences. To test this model, participants repeatedly judged life-satisfaction over the course of a semester. After each assessment, participants reported sources that they used for these judgments. Changes in reported sources were related to changes in life-satisfaction judgments. A path model demonstrated that chronically accessible and stable sources are related to stable individual differences in life-satisfaction. Furthermore, the model supported the hypothesis that personality effects were mediated by chronically accessible and stable sources. In sum, the results are consistent with our theory that life-satisfaction judgments are based on chronically accessible sources.