Do you exercise regularly but your mate doesn't share your enthusiasm?
While trying to get them to work out, you could be losing some of your precious exercise time.
So, just how can you get them to enjoy fitness activities the same as you?
MIchele Stanten, a walking coach and ACE-certified fitness instructor, discusses how you can get your mate to exercise, without sacrificing your own time.
RadioMD Presents: Train Your Body | Original Air Date: April 14, 2015
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest: Michele Stanten
Your trainer, Melanie Cole, is here to motivate and help you perform. It's time now for Train Your Body.
MELANIE: So, you like to exercise. You like to stay fit and eat healthy. What if your spouse or partner or loved one is not kind of on the same page as you? How do you get to be on the same page? You see those couples out walking after dinner and you see those people that are working next to each other on treadmills on the gym and you wonder, how did they get...Did they find somebody like-minded or were they together and then they got each other on the same kind of program?
My guest today is Michele Stanton. She's a walking coach and an A Certified fitness instructor who's been inspiring and motivating people to get active for more than 20 years.
Welcome to the show, Michele.
So, when we see those people out walking at night and we want to be those people and get your spouse out. “Come on, let's go out after dinner.” “No way. I'm sitting here having a beer. I want to watch my TV show.” How do we get on the same page with our loved ones?
MICHELE: Hi. Thanks. It's great to be here. Well, there's a couple of different strategies. First and foremost nagging, bribing and insulting don't work, okay? When we keep trying to get them to pick up their socks out of the floor, put the toilet seat down, all the reminders, all the nagging, do they change? Usually not. So, it's not going to work with exercise. But, we do know that by you continuing with your health habits, that can influence them. There's a lot of research out there showing that friends and families and spouses can influence the exercise and eating habits of the people that are closest to them. So, most importantly, continue doing what you're doing. Don't let their bad habits influence you so that you start to do less.
MELANIE: That's great advice. So, you don't want their bad habits to turn around back on you. But, you're right, nagging doesn't work and badgering and “Come on. Come on. Come on.”
MELANIE: So, role modeling. If they see you eating healthy, going to bed early, only having one glass of wine, exercising, doing all those things, and that's not enough to motivate them just by role modeling, what do you do to get them to do it with you?
MICHELE: Well, there's a couple of things that we'll talk about. I want to add one thing on to that and that is that keep it up because there was just a recent study that came out that some of that influence, as you get older, gets stronger. There was a study where they looked at couples over years and what they found at the beginning of the study, these were middle-aged couples, so their kids had grown. That's the other thing, depending on the stage of your life, it can be harder or easier to influence your spouse. So, as you're getting older and the kids are older, you don't have as many of those responsibilities. They found that when they interviewed the couples at the beginning of the study, if the wife exercised when they checked back with these couples over six years, 70% of the husbands who were not exercising at the beginning, started exercising. And if it was the husband who was exercising in the beginning, 40% of the wives started to exercise over that 6 year period. So, there's still hope. So, again, keep up that role modeling. But, if that's not working, you want to start to influence, you don't want to wait until after the kids are older. Start by talking to them. Be honest. Let them know why you're concerned, why you want them to exercise. Is it because you want to spend more time together? You see it is an opportunity. It might be that you want them around. You want them to be healthy so that you can retire together and do all those exciting trips you talked about. Maybe it's that you see that the stress from their job is having a negative influence. So, be honest and hope and let them know why you're concerned and focus on health. Don't focus on weight or appearances, because that may just make them feel more ashamed. They may go on the defensive. So, be honest with them and then ask them. You know, find out what's stopping them. What are some of their obstacles? They may be willing to open up or not, but at least you're getting out your reasons.
MELANIE: Well, I think also, especially if they don't have life insurance, it's really more important than crying and doing all those kinds of things which may or may not work. So, threats might work as well to say, “You don't have life insurance, you better exercise or else,” you know? Those kinds of things. Then, if they have life insurance, I guess you don't really have to worry about it. No, I'm just kidding.
Okay. So, go on, Michele, because these are great bits of advice is to say, keep role modeling and to see those studies does give us hope.
MICHELE: Right. Talk to them. See if you can find out what their idea of exercise is. What they would like to do. Keep in mind that your idea of exercise might be very different from theirs. You might be going to the gym, you might be doing a spin class, you might be lifting weights. They might not be interested in that. So, kind of broaden your scope of exercise and invite them to do things like go for a walk, play tennis, find another couple and go play tennis. If they used to maybe play golf, offer to go and play golf with them. Ride your bikes. Make it about spending time together and having fun, not about exercising for health benefits. So, focus on that fun aspect and pick some things that maybe they're better than you are at or something that they can teach you how to do. Like, if they used to golf, get them out golfing, just leave the cart back at the clubhouse and walk the greens.
MELANIE: Well, that's great and do you think that it's good advice to find out why? Are they not exercising because being told that they should do something is like nagging from their wife or are they looking at you and saying, “Oh, you think you're so great because you exercise and go to the gym?” Is there a reason to delve deeper into the psyche of why they're not doing it?
MICHELE: Absolutely. If you can get some of that information out of them. You know your spouse the best in terms of how willing they're going to be, but maybe don't make it a confrontation, but every once in a while, ask some questions or ask about an activity and kind of, you know, little bits and pieces, kind of chip away at trying to understand where they're at with exercise. Maybe they have an injury. Maybe something's bothering them. Maybe they used to love to run, but now because of their knees, they can't, so they don't feel like walking is good enough exercise. When you can start to find those things out, then that's where you can offer up some information. Even along the way, letting them know that just a little bit can make a big difference. We have so much research out there that even going for a 10 minute walk can reduce stress, boost your mood. You know, multiple short bouts of exercise throughout the day have the same effect as one longer bout in terms of reducing your risk for heart disease, lowering your risk for diabetes. You know, helping you to sleep better. So, sharing some of that information with them that every little bit counts can help.
MELANIE: Well, I think I agree with you that it can help in encouraging those small steps.
MELANIE: Getting started just little bits at the beginning, but how do you avoid, and this is a problem I have personally, and I don't know about you, but anybody in our business how do you avoid feeling like the personal trainer?
MELANIE: You know, “Come on. Let's walk. You'll love it.” Or, “Come on. Let's do this. Let's dance around the living room. Let's do some squats. Come for a walk with me.” Sounding like the personal trainer because that may not be what they want.
MICHELE: Absolutely. Again, you know your spouse the best, so you need to kind of feel that out. In those cases, then, kind of back off. Focus more on those fun aspects. You know, another thing there, in terms of those little bits count, if they are somebody who's interested in technology and gadgets, the activity monitors could be a great place to start if they would be willing to wear one. Then, you don't really have to say anything. You know, give it to them or mention it to them and let them start to see where they're starting and then how things can add up. Let that be kind of the trainer for them so you don't have to be.
MELANIE: That's great advice. Giving it to them in a non-condescending way. In a way that makes them feel like it is an actual gift and you want them to be around. You have about 30 seconds here, Michele. 45 seconds or so. Wrap it up for us.
MICHELE: Well, the other thing that I would say is share success stories with them. If you know of friends or spouses of friends, other people who have great benefits, the things that they've gotten out of exercise. Again, randomly share those examples with them and that way, they'll get to see how beneficial it is for other people and that will, hopefully, encourage them to do it, too.
MELANIE: Absolutely. That's the way to really take those small steps. Get your spouse involved, your loved one involved in the exercise program and routine that you love so much and without feeling like their personal trainer. Without being condescending or nagging, you can get your whole family to exercise. You can make it a competition. People love competition. So, try it. Try and get everybody involved because that's the way you can all get healthy as a family.
You're listening to Train Your Body right here on RadioMD.
This is Melanie Cole.