A healthy relationship is all about finding balance. Sure, spending time together is important, but it’s equally important that each partner engages their own, individual interests outside of the relationship, too.
When it comes to spending time together, though, it turns out you and your partner could likely find a lot of value in bonding over a little bit of fitness.
“Relationships and fitness go hand in hand,” says Amy Baglan, CEO and founder of MeetMindful.com and Yoga Dates. “They are both hard work but well worth it. A romantic relationship that is worth something is always going to be hard work, just like getting in shape and becoming healthier require time and effort.”
Baglan explained that if you approach your relationships the same way you approach your fitness goals, there’s lots of potential for you and your partner to form a better bond.
Additionally, Shane Allen, a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist notes that research has shown losing weight is easiest when you do it with someone else.
“What better person to do it with than your romantic partner? You can celebrate each other's successes and help each other through struggles,” says Allen. “Some of the strongest relationships I've seen are those with people who exercise together. Common goals and shared routines are what help make a relationship, as well as our bodies, stronger.”
Below, a few experts weigh in to help highlight all of the ways exercising with your significant other can help foster a strong, healthy relationship.
Happier Couples: “Working out with your partner can create the feeling of a shared experience, which Psychology Today reports helps couples feel more satisfied with their relationships and more in love with their partner,” explains Jeana Anderson Cohen, an ACE certified personal trainer and founder of aSweatLife.com.
Prioritization: “In a post on how to form a workout routine with your significant other on aSweatLife.com, I noted that the simple element of devoting a little extra time to one's significant other while also doing something that both parties enjoy can be a huge emotional boost to a relationship,” says Anderson Cohen. “According to Psychology Today, ‘When work and other obligations take over the schedule, finding ways to keep your relationship a priority can make a difference.’"
Motivational Boost: “It's difficult to flake on a workout when your partner is heading to the gym,” explains Samantha Smith, an ACE certified personal trainer at Balanced Fitness & Health in San Diego. “If you set goals together and motivate each other, it will be harder to say ‘no’ to a workout if it means your partner is meeting their goals before you do. This friendly competition can create a fitness game of who is more active, adding some fun to the relationship.”
Endorphins Increase: “Science has proven that exercise releases dopamine, a happiness-inducing neurotransmitter,” Smith says. “What better time to be with your significant other than when you are happy?”
Better in the Bedroom: Mike Riordan, founder of Fit Tours NYC, a company offering Central Park Tours with a fitness twist, says while working with couples who join his tours as an alternative to working out at hotel gyms, he gets a close-up view of how exercise can be a rewarding bonding activity.
“Many people think that the term ‘physical relationship’ only pertains to sex, but there is a lot to be said for those who sweat together outside of the bedroom,” Riordan explains. “Even if a couple goes to the gym together, they often separate to do their own type of workout. It's always seemed to me that when partners take a class together they are sharing the same experience of exertion, which is obviously a chance to bond. That sense of accomplishing something together whether it be running up the stairs at Bethesda Fountain here in the park or finishing a kick ass class together means those sweaty high fives can easily lead to more steam in between the sheets, which I think everyone will agree is good for relationships.”
Re-Sparking the Flame: “Exercising with a romantic partner can be especially beneficial for those who are in long-term relationships and feel that the newness of the initial months of dating have worn off or need something more to sustain the relationship,” says Baglan. “In the beginning of the dating phase the goal is to learn about the other person because they are interesting and charming. We may feel self-conscious and worried when the newness wears off because then we have to get down to the core of our partner, and show our own core in return. A mutual fitness adventure can make the journey to the core much smoother.”
A Learning Experience: “Exercise could be the activity that shows you more about yourself and your partner more than any self-help book,” Baglan explains. “You don’t have to join the most expensive gym or have the latest gear, but embarking on a fitness journey together forces both people to communicate, be supportive, strong and weak. Mutual vulnerability is an excellent way to reach a relationship breakthrough. And yes, sex does count as part of your fitness plan, and could even become more exciting as a result of embracing some new fitness goals with your partner.”
A Few Words of Warning: Londin Angel Winters, owner of Metaphysical Fitness and author of "Loving Your Weight Off," says that spending too much workout time together could potentially kill the “sensual spark” between you and your partner.
“People do not realize that the law of polarity is in play with couples,” she explains. “When couples work out together with the same workout routine, they will end up embodied in the same energies—whether it's the flowing energy of yoga or the structured energy of strength training.” Angel Winters suggests keeping this in mind if you often work out with your partner and said that if you do enjoy doing the same things together, it might be worth your while to “re-establish the basis for sparks to fly again.”
“Let's say your favorite activity as a couple is to go for a jog together, keep on doing this,” she said. “It's a great way to spend time together. However, if you notice that things feel a little dull in your dynamic upon return to the house, think of ways to spark yourself into opposite energy patterns.”