Don’t Go It Alone, Work Out as a Couple
Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.
Work out as a couple? You mean, sweat together?? Only if you want a better relationship, want to improve your sex life, get more oomph out of your workouts, and lose some weight while getting healthier.
This is the time when most New Year’s Resolutions have essentially evaporated, including the big three: having a better relationship, exercising more and eating healthier.
Data tells us that adherence to exercise and healthy eating improves significantly with a supportive partner. When that partner is our significant other, research says there’s a 90% increase in the likelihood that we’ll stick with our goals, including exercise. Not only does adherence to exercise improve, leading to healthier and happier living but there’s advantages to relationships when couples work out together.
You’ll grow more connected when you workout together and that time you’d spend working out alone or with others, now becomes “us” time. Not only does going to the gym together promote quality time with each other, it allows for discussion of mutual goals and fitness levels, creates opportunities for sharing a common commitment to wellbeing, creates mutual motivation, develops deeper bonds with each other and offers many chances to celebrate each other’s progress. You naturally focus on each other in ways that couples often don’t.
Further, your workouts will actually be better. You have an accountability partner and it’s likely you’ll push each other, kindly of course, to do more, go further, and press your limits.
Perhaps most important to couples who work out together regularly are matters of the heart, that go beyond the gym. Exercise is simply a wonder drug for your libido. With the touching, support, encouragement, sweating, moving, pheromones endorphins, dopamines and other feel-good hormones that are released, you’re more likely to be in the “right frame of mind” for post-workout enjoyment. A survey of 1,000 adults 18 and older who run at least once per week outdoors or on a treadmill, found that 66% believe they have more sex when they run as a couple. Think about it… sweaty hands, a racing pulse, shortness of breath – what’s that sound like to you? Romance!
James White, Ph.D., author of “The Best Sex of Your Life” (1997, Barricade Books), professor emeritus at the University of California San Diego and former director of the exercise physiology and human performance center, believes that runners have 15-20% more sex than those who don’t run or exercise. And Theresa E. DiDonato Ph.D. noted, “Lab studies show that after jointly participating in an exciting physical challenge or activity, couples report feeling more satisfied with their relationships and more in love with their partner.”
Marital therapist, John Gottman, Ph.D., tells us it’s important to be intimately familiar with each other’s worlds, and working out together sure builds that opportunity. He also teaches that fondness and admiration are two of the most crucial elements in a long-lasting romance, which grows when you cheer each other on during a workout. “Turning toward” each other is the basis of emotional connection, romance, passion, and a great sex life, Gottman advises, and when you are helping each other on the Total Gym or tossing a medicine ball back and forth while doing lunges, that’s exactly what you are doing.
So hit the HIIT (high intensity interval training), do planks face to face, crunches on a Swiss ball or Bosu while tossing a ball to each other, leg raises with some manual resistance from your partner, push ups with your partner pushing gently on your back or face-to-face in “missionary form,” single leg lunges helping each other up and down, and sit-ups sitting on your partner’s lap, legs wrapped around his/her waist. You can do these together on your Total Gym equipment in your own bedroom, too!
Plan a Total Gym workout date. It’s cheaper than marriage counseling, and it’s an inexpensive way to connect, communicate and celebrate each other. Perhaps most importantly, sweating it out with your sweetheart will add more sweetness to your hearts.