A 5K race, a Bikram yoga class or a workout at the gym may not seem like a romantic outing, but a growing group of experts agree that couples who exercise together can not only stave off the extra pounds that are often linked to marriage, but they can strengthen their relationship and their sex life, and possibly live happily ever after.
“When a couple works out together, the actual exercise itself can physically and emotionally have a positive impact,” explained Dr. Jane Greer, a marriage and relationship psychotherapist in New York City and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. “Both partners come away with feelings of synchronicity, cooperative spirit and shared passion. Then you throw in some spicy endorphins and it can be a real power trip for the relationship.”
Greer says sweating it out together is a good way to reduce stress in a relationship while also building better communication and common goals. It’s also a great way to enhance what goes on in the bedroom.
“This will definitely impact your sex life because exercising helps people feel better,” she said. “It alleviates stress and gives you more energy; you feel better about yourself and your self-esteem increases. If you’re feeling all of that when you’re with your partner, the logical thing is to share that desirability and sexual companionship.”
And research backs that up.
One study by the University of Arkansas found that exercise improves sex. Exercise frequency was attributed to enhanced feelings of attractiveness and increased energy levels—both of which can increase sexual desirability and performance.
Another study reported that women were more sexually responsive following 20 minutes of vigorous exercise (think: hot, sweaty yoga class with hip-opening poses). Men also reap similar sexual rewards. Short intense exercise is linked with increased testosterone levels, which help stimulate sexual desire and behavior.
And this increased friskiness doesn’t just apply to young couples either. In a Harvard University study of 160 male and female swimmers in their 40s and 60s, regular physical activity was associated with more frequency and enjoyment of sex. Interestingly enough, swimmers in their 60s actually reported sex lives comparable to those in their 40s.
As if a better sex life isn’t enough of a reason to hit the gym together, couples who do so are more motivated and more committed to staying fit and healthy.
A study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that couples who exercise together are more likely to stick with an exercise program. After 12 months, only 6.3 percent of married couples dropped out of their workout routine, while a whopping 43 percent of married singles did. Who says marriage means you’re doomed to become a couch potato?
The other bonus for couples who exercise together? It can be a good way to work through any conflicts, says Greer. “When you come away from a class with a renewed sense of strength and control, and you see your partner doing the same thing, it’s easier to look at a problem and say, let’s work this through.”
Ready to get your sweat on with your sweetie? Here are five tips for doing so:
The bottom line? Exercise together for healthier bodies and a healthier relationship!
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