Some couples only exercise together, while for others exercise is a solo endeavor. But which method works better, both for fitness and for relationships?
The short answer is: We think that couples should work out together. Studies have shown that couples who exercise together tend to have stronger relationships… and of course stronger bodies. Not only does working out together keep you both more motivated and hold you both accountable, it also gives you another shared purpose to pursue in your relationship: your mutual health and fitness.
And if you don’t have a significant other, don’t worry: You can reap most of these benefits (aside from better sex, of course!) from working out with a long-term gym buddy.
First, let’s bust some of the excuses people make for only exercising alone. Then we’ll take a look at some of the best workouts you can do together!
I need my alone time.
As do we all. But the gym really isn’t the place to get it. Not only is it noisy and crowded and not exactly relaxing, your workouts will also be less effective if you think of them as the only time you have to spend by yourself.
Working out alone is a lot less motivating than working out with a partner. By yourself, you’re less likely to push yourself and much more likely to “cheat” in your workouts. Think about how tempting it is to lie about your wimpiest workouts when someone else asks!
“How was your 5k today?” your boyfriend asks.
“Oh it was fantastic!” you answer, knowing full well that you only made it 2 miles.
It’s just too tempting to take it easy when you’re alone, especially when you’re thinking of the gym as your alone time for thought and relaxation.
When someone else is around to keep you accountable, you can’t hide from your own worst days and laziest moments. You’ll push yourself to do your best, because you care what your partner thinks about your performance. And if you really do have a “just can’t make it” day, you’ll have sympathy and support when you need it most.
Plus, your alone time should be high-quality. The gym is for working out. Set aside a different portion of your day for private thought and reflection, and you’ll feel more rewarded. This isn’t something you should have to multi-task!
My S.O. doesn’t exercise.
I know, I know: You’re not supposed to try to change the one you love. But when his or her health is at stake, you’re compelled to help them change, and exercising together is one of the best ways to set your loved one on the path towards better health.
There’s no way around it: regular exercise will improve your partner’s health and overall wellness, and will probably lengthen his or her lifespan, too.
How can you get your significant other to start working out? The best way to make a joint workout happen is to put it on the schedule. (And if you don’t have a household calendar, stick a note on the fridge!) Start with just once a week, on Saturdays or Sundays. Think of it as a date. Together you’ll go to the gym, then prepare a healthy lunch or dinner, and then spend the rest of the day as you usually do. Once this becomes a habit, add another sweat sesh to your schedule on Wednesday mornings or evenings, and follow the same pattern. Eventually, you could be working out together three or four days a week!
Of course, you should also make sure your partner knows the benefits of regular exercise. It’s not just about looking good: it’s also about improving your sleep, your mood, your energy levels, and even your sex life. And all of those benefits will improve your life as a couple! You’ll be more compatible in countless ways.
Finally, remember that rewards work. You’ve probably motivated yourself with treats from time to time, so why not try this approach with your significant other? Favorite (moderately healthy!) meals can be great rewards, but you can also go longer-term: A weekend away if you both stick to your workout schedule for 12 weeks, or a mini shopping spree when a certain weight-loss goal is reached.
We do different workouts.
If your significant other is totally committed to a soccer league or to CrossFit and you’re just not interested, you shouldn’t feel pressured to switch to the exact same workout routine. Couples don’t need to have the same exercise preferences to be compatible!
But what you should do is set a weekly or bi-weekly joint workout date. On that day, you do a workout as a couple: either a type of exercise neither of you usually does, or alternate between each others’ favorite workouts.
There are lots of beneficial reasons to vary your workout routine. Not only does a varied routine work and tone all of your muscle groups, it also prevents injuries from overuse and keeps you from becoming bored and unmotivated. And since you usually work out separately, you and your significant other will look forward to the days when you try something new together.
If you do want to try something totally new together, what should you try? Here are some tried-and-true adventurous workout ideas for when you’re ready to get a workout and spend some quality time together:
- Rock Climbing. If you’re new to this, don’t set out to scale a cliff in the wilderness! Go to a rock gym. Not only will it be climate-controlled and safe, there are also employees to show you the ropes (literally).
- Snowshoeing. If you live in a snowy area and find yourself stuck inside for months at a time, this is a must-try. You can usually rent a pair of snowshoes, and lots of parks and ski resorts give snowshoe tours.
- Water Skiing. Here’s an idea for the summer. If you have friends with a boat, you’re extra lucky. If not, find a tour company that will take you out on the water and teach you how to ski. Bonus: This will really tone your quads!
- Dance Lessons. Sign up for ballroom or salsa lessons together. This isn’t the sweatiest workout, but it is one of the most fun! It doesn’t matter if you can’t dance, and it doesn’t even matter if you learn. You’ll have a great time together anyway.
- Fitness Challenges. What better way to bond than to embark on a fitness challenge together? It can be tough to power through alone, but together couples can see some serious results from programs like the 15 Day Challenge.
Couples who work out together, stay together. Have fun motivating each other and staying healthy together for life!