Cohabitating couples share heart-related habits, risks

Couples who live together tend to have similar health habits. But only about one in five couples falls into the “ideal” category for heart-healthy habits and risk factors, suggests a study in the Oct. 26, 2020, issue of JAMA Network Open.

Researchers looked at health data on 5,365 couples from diverse racial and economic backgrounds throughout the United States. Most were in their 40s and 50s. Based on risk factors from the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 (smoking status, body mass index, exercise, diet, total cholesterol, blood pressure, and fasting blood sugar), researchers categorized individuals and couples as poor, intermediate, or ideal for each factor and over all.

Nearly 80% of couples were in the intermediate or poor categories, mainly because of unhealthy diets and inadequate exercise, the researchers found. On the plus side, both of those factors can be improved. And earlier research suggests that when one member of a couple changes behavior in a positive way, the other member makes similar changes over time. That means programs to encourage heart-healthy habits could help both members of a couple, the authors note.

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8

 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” – Mark 11:24

 “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” – Proverbs 12:25

 “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” – Luke 12:25

 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:11

 “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22

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