How to shape up a stagnant spouse

With this being Valentine’s Week a friend asked me a timely question recently, which others might find interesting also: “What can someone who likes to work out do to try to get their couch potato husband or wife interested in exercise, too?”
Now, there’s a topic that certainly has to be handled carefully, but at the same time is not a lost cause.
As with all things in marriage or a committed relationship, some compromise is necessary and you’ll also need to be careful not to hurt your significant other’s feeling if you’re trying to nudge them toward exercising more.
Fortunately, both my wife and me enjoy exercising and try to make it a part of our regular schedules.
However, after talking with some fitness experts about this topic, and relying on some personal conversations with couples, here are my Great Eight tips to help someone get their spouse to “shape up.”
1 Talk about the benefits of exercise and healthy eating together.
2 Emphasize that working out together can be something fun to do together and can help you both stay more committed to exercising.
3 If your spouse is reluctant to discuss fitness, it gets tougher to get on the same page. You may have to be more creative in nudging them toward fitness. You can’t push someone to do something they don’t want to do. Perhaps you can take your spouse to healthier restaurants, or on dates that involve being more active. Ask him/her to take a dance class, who would pass that up? Or plan a day at a national park where you’ll be active.
4 Buy healthier food and cook smart meals instead of getting fast food.
5 Exercise as a family. Go for a walk around the neighborhood or park, hike on a trail, or try a bike ride together. Associate with other healthy couples or families.
7 Ask the doctor to talk to your spouse about their health.
8 Finally, don’t give up on your spouse without trying. Keep working on them to turn toward fitness, but always try to encourage instead of criticize.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at