Getting Your Spouse or Partner to Exercise

Couple stretching in the park
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If there's one thing we've learned about marriage, it's this: You're not in charge of what your partner does. Thinking you are often causes problems, especially when it comes to exercise. It can be tough on a relationship when one person is active and the other one isn't.

If you're the exerciser, you worry about your spouse's weight, along with their health, mortality, and stress levels. If you're the non-exerciser, you may feel guilty all the time for not being as active as your partner.

Even if you and your partner have different opinions about the necessity of exercise, there are a number of ways in which you can offer encouragement. And you can do it in ways that will enhance your relationship and boost wellness.

How to Encourage Healthy Behaviors

In order to have the best relationship possible, you both need to have your own thoughts and opinions and be autonomous people. Aggressive communication is the wrong approach.

At the same time, you do have a right to nudge your partner in the right direction when it comes to their health and well-being. After all, the health of your partner matters to you as well. Whether it is wanting your partner healthy and alive, or just longing for a loved one who can enjoy exercise and healthy living beside you, you do have a vested interest.

Be a Good Role Model

Nagging your partner to exercise usually backfires. But focusing on your own healthy behaviors may encourage your partner to do the same. It is surprising how often people make a change after the begging stops. It may have something to do with that autonomy mentioned above.

Being a role model releases you from having to say a word, and it works. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that having a partner who is physically active raised the odds by a factor of five that the other person would become more physically active as well.

Use Gentle Encouragement

Using gentle, non-demanding encouragement is often the best way to proceed: Plan after-dinner walks, something that is not only a healthy activity but forces you to leave the screens behind and reconnect after a long day. Or perhaps you can invite your partner to the gym to show them how things work. Just offering a no-strings invitation may be enough to get reluctant spouses moving.

Make It Fun

Shouting, "Hey, let's go run 10 miles!" probably isn't going to work. Activities that seem less like exercise, however, such as a bike ride, tennis game, or a walk in the park may be more appealing. Make it about spending time together and having fun rather than about exercise.

Double the Good

If you are like many couples, chances are that one of you has, at times, carried the brunt of housework. If your partner who is leery to exercise is the one who does more housework, you may face a challenge. After all, housework is a form of exercise. If you want to free your partner up to have time to exercise or get this kind of exercise yourself, try chores that promote fitness.

Be Honest

Rather than getting angry about your spouse's habit of being their own person, try talking about what's really bothering you. Perhaps you're worried about their health and you want a better future. Maybe you simply want to understand why they are so against exercise.

Your partner may have reasons you're not even aware of that are interfering with the desire or ability to exercise. Understanding those reasons not only allows you to be more sympathetic to them but can improve the depth of your communication as well. Take the time to listen.

Why Encourage Your Partner to Be Healthy

We don't need to rehash the benefits of eating healthy and exercising. Those are readily available. Although we hear less about the benefits of healthy living for a spouse, it's very important.

Studies have suggested that having a healthy long-term relationship has a positive impact on medical conditions from cancer to heart disease. Share your feelings and fears about the health of your loved one as a way to start a discussion about exercise.

Threatening your partner by saying your health is at stake! if they don't start running with you every day probably won't cut it. If anything, your partner will find this aggravating enough that they will do the opposite simply to let you know they won't be manipulated. If you share your fear of how their health might impact yours, make sure to do it in a gentle and loving manner.

A Word From Verywell

Many people want to encourage their partner to exercise, but simply demanding that they live a healthier lifestyle isn't the best option. Perhaps the best, most effective method is being a good role model yourself. If your partner is reluctant to exercise, make sure to take time to listen, not merely lecture. Couples who exercise together are often healthier, but tact, thoughtfulness, and a willingness to listen are imperative.

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Article Sources
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