Physical activity is contagious among married couples, found a new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"When it comes to physical fitness, the best peer pressure to get moving could be coming from the person who sits across from you at the breakfast table," Laura Cobb, study co-author and doctoral student at Johns Hopkins, said in a press release. "There's an epidemic of people in this country who don't get enough exercise and we should harness the power of the couple to ensure people are getting a healthy amount of physical activity." The study builds upon previous research that found couples working toward a similar health goal are more likely to achieve said goal.

Cobb and her team analyzed records from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, which began in 1987 “to investigate the causes of atherosclerosis and its clinical outcomes” of more than 15, 792 middle-aged adults from four U.S. communities — Maryland, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Mississippi. The records were specifically from two medical visits six years apart, where ARIC researchers asked over 3,000 married couples about their physical activity levels.

Based on the exercise guidelines from the American Heart Association, 45 percent of husbands and 33 percent of wives were getting the recommend amount of weekly activity: 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. And during their follow-up visit, husbands of married women who first met the weekly guidelines were 70 percent more likely to meet those levels; wives were 40 percent more likely to meet those levels.

"We all know how important exercise is to staying healthy," Cobb said. "This study tells us that one spouse could have a really positive impact on the other when it comes to staying fit and healthy for the long haul."

In a separate study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, married men were more likely visit the doctor in the past 12 months when compared to their cohabiting or single counterparts. And research from the University of Pittsburgh found a happy marriage reduces risk for heart disease.

The jury may still be out on whether or not it’s beneficial to work out with a spouse. Prevention rounded-up eight reasons why it may not be a good idea for couples to sweat together; for example, not everyone enjoys the same form of exercise or at the same fitness level. This isn’t to say it’s impossible, of course. And not working out with a spouse doesn’t mean they can’t still serve as inspiration.

Source: Cobb L et al. Physical Activity among Married Couples in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. American Heart Association's EPI/Lifestyle Scientific Sessions, 2015.