With Valentine’s Day coming up this month, hopefully you will have planned to spend some quality time with your special someone. Dinner, a movie… or how about some fitness maybe? It may not seem like your first choice for a romantic weekend, but there are many benefits to not only exercising, but also eating healthily with your other half.
If you live with your partner, it’s likely that your home life schedules will be roughly the same. Instead of sitting in front of the television, you could plan an evening of exercise or a trip to the gym without it affecting your diary too much. This could become a planned, regular outing, but equally a spur of the moment activity if you both find yourself with nothing to do of an evening. Equally with an eating plan, it will be much easier to stick to a healthy diet if the one you’re share a dining table with is doing it as well. That means cooking just the one dish at meal times and no temptations in the cupboards or fridge – good news all round, really.
Two heads are better than one
If you’ve previously been in charge of your own eating or activity plans separately, take this opportunity to join together and do the planning as a two. That way, you’ll have half the work, but both feel part of it, meaning you’re happier with the changes you’ll be making and more likely to commit to them. This could relate to what kind of exercise and when, meals to cook at home, or even where to eat out together without veering off-course.
Birds of a feather stick together
Two people being active together means twice the amount of enthusiasm. If one of you isn’t feel it, hopefully the other one will, and once you are out and being active, having someone else with you will also increase your commitment to it. A study taken in the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University surveyed married couples who joined health clubs together. Their results found that the drop out rate for couples who worked out together was 6.3% in a year compared to the 43% rate for couples who worked out separately. This was regardless of whether the couple were both doing the same type of exercise or not.
Become a more dynamic duo
Not only will you be more committed when working alongside your spouse, but it been proven that the effectiveness of your workout will be increased too. Interestingly, studies from the journal JAMA Internal Medicine have shown that both men and women are more likely to exercise more or lose weight if their partner joined them. This also goes for giving up smoking – a smoker is more likely to quit if their partner quits than if their partner never smoked at all. You have the same amount of chance sticking to bad habits with your other half as you do good habits, so why not make the change for the better and both get on a good track together?
A problem shared is a problem halved
Getting into activity or healthier living can be a tough task, and if you’re new to it, it has the potential to be very lonely as well if you are struggling. This is why successful weight loss organizations, like Slimming World for example, put such an emphasis on the group experience, not only the personal journey. If you’re stuck and your motivation low, having a helping hand might be exactly what you need to lift your spirits and keep you on the straight and narrow. You’ll probably know your other half better than most people, and therefore will have an insight into what makes them tick, as well as what’s likely to have the opposite effect. You’ll know how much their goals mean to them too, and you’ll be aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and support them accordingly (Note: if you feel your partner doesn’t know these things about you, it might be helpful to point it all out to them before embarking on a joint-venture, to avoid any arguments…).
A bit of healthy competition
Now we’re not suggesting you set out against each other here – that surely has the potential to end in tears. But a little healthy, light-hearted competition between a couple could be good for you both, and will keep you both going all the way to achieving your goals. That’s not to say that your goals have to be the same; this might be unreasonable if you have different abilities, for example. However both having your own goals set to the same time-restraint might be a good place to start. How about some rewards thrown in there too, like a healthy dinner being cooked for the person who gets to their weight loss target first? Keep it related to your health plan to increase both of your success rates.
Make a healthy home for everyone
Why only involve your other half? If you have children, for example, spreading the healthy vibes throughout the whole family will give you even more success and encouragement. Half term is fast approaching, so think about how everyone can get involved, both with some activity and helping out in the kitchen too.
The gift that keeps on giving…
As long as you don’t fall out, it’s likely that sharing a journey of this kind with your loved one will bring extended benefits; not only will your relationship support your new active lifestyle, but your active lifestyle is likely to support your relationship too. Making an extra effort to exercise and eat healthily together means more quality time spent between the two of you. You’ll be happier as a couple to see each other achieve their goals, and feel that you helped contribute as well. It’s likely to be a bit of an emotional roller coaster on the road to success, and knowing that you’ve been together through it all will no doubt help you to strengthen your relationship bond.
On a slightly more intimate level, exercising releases endorphins, the “feel-good” factor that’s perfect for building self-confidence, as well as energy levels… If you’re thinking what we’re thinking, that will lead to plenty more opportunities to get your heart rate going…
So you’ve heard all the benefits and are keen to try exercising as a pair, but now you’re wondering where to start… Here are some ideas:
Open your eyes to new experiences
If you’re already both fit and active but practice through different kinds of sports, you might enjoy introducing each other to your preferred routes of exercise. This will give you an insight into a side of your partner’s life that you may not have previously experienced, and you’ll probably get a buzz out of teaching each other new skills.
Baby, we were born to run
Running is a good option for couples who have the same level of ability and skill, whether you’re both beginners or pros. There’s no cost, no set time commitments and as long as you each have a few warm layers, you can do it any time you’re both available. Do make sure to draw up a plan of action before you both go out though. For example, where you will be running to, what route will you be taking, how long you will be out for and also, what are your running preferences (talking, listening to music…). However, don’t let the idea of running put you off. Even going out for a walk with a loved one will help your health and give you an opportunity to have a good natter, without the distractions in the home.
Gym bunnies, unite!
Everybody needs a sparring partner, so if you’re already a member at a health club, why not make good use of your guest pass and take your spouse along with you? If you’re taking part in a private class, or have a one-on-one session with a trainer, they may be able to join in at little or no extra cost. You might also both be interested in joining a group session or class together.
Two can play at that game
Tennis, squash, or even ping-pong – all of these racquet sports need two people to make a match, be it competitive or a fun knock about. You can have fun playing against each other, or if you’re really good, even join forces and form a doubles team against another couple!
It literally takes two to tango, so why not have your other half as a partner? Most dances are reliant on a connection, usually passionate, between the two people moving together, so your spouse would seem a natural and most convenient choice. You can practice your fancy footwork outside of the classroom in the comfort of your own home, and your partner is also most likely to be present when, say, you’re faced with a dance floor at a wedding or birthday occasion, and fancy showing off.
But if you’re a single Pringle, don’t despair – you can still find huge amounts of benefits from exercising with a family member, or close friend. Buddy up to go to the gym, or agree with a mate to flood each other’s WhatsApp inboxes with photos of your lunch. Whatever your strategy, make sure you’re getting support and motivation, and giving some back in return.