Better together? A pilot study of romantic partner influence on exercise adherence and cardiometabolic risk in African-American couples.

Lindsay Toth, University of North Florida
L. M. Hornbuckle
A. Rauer
K. M. Winters-Stone
C. Springer
C. S. Jones


Background: African-Americans (AAs) have higher rates of inactivity, obesity, and cardiometabolic risk compared to other races/ethnicities. Romantic partners can positively influence health habits, yet whether or not couples have to exercise together in order to adopt regular exercise remains unclear. This study examined whether exercising together influences exercise adherence and cardiometabolic risk in AA couples.

Methods: Nine AA romantic couples (age 62.8 ± 7.7 years; body mass index 31.0 ± 4.4 kg/m2; 6105 ± 1689 average steps/day) completed a 12-week walking (≥ 30 min, 3 days/week) plus resistance training (RT; 2 days/week) pilot intervention. Couples were randomized to either exercise together (ET) or separately (ES). Waist and hip circumferences, iDXA-measured body composition, blood pressure, and blood biomarkers (glucose, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, C-reactive protein, and fibrinogen) were assessed pre- and post-intervention. Independent-sample t tests and generalized linear mixed models, controlling for gender, were used to analyze data. Significance was accepted at P < 0.05.

Results: There were no significant group × time interactions for any outcome. However, ET trended toward more walking (86.5 ± 57.7 min/week) than ES (66.1 ± 31.7 min/week). There were also significant overall time effects for waist circumference (P < 0.001), body fat (P = 0.020), fat mass (P = 0.007), gynoid fat (P = 0.041), HbA1c (P = 0.020), and HDL (P = 0.047), where all variables decreased.

Conclusions: Trends showed exercising together may promote walking prescription adherence, although more research is needed in a larger sample. This intervention may also improve cardiometabolic risk factors in this population. These pilot data will inform the current investigators' future exercise intervention research in AA adult dyads.


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