Want to get active and healthy while also improving your romantic life? That’s right. The two go hand in hand.  If you are concerned about your spouse’s/partner’s health, his/her weight or activity level, here’s a method for you to be a good role model for health, have some healthy fun with each other, and build a closer relationship–all at the same time.

Sure we know that not having enough time, money or self-confidence keep many people away from the gym. But did you know that, according to a recent study by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) in the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and in the Boston areas, 48% of people said their spouse or partner did not support regular gym attendance and sticking to fitness goals.

What? Your relationship isn’t supportive of you working out, getting healthy, looking fit and feeling great? And worse, you and your spouse or partner are in a constant state of battle over this? Hmmm. We better look into this before a relationship disaster—or a health crisis–occurs. There’s hope for sure!

A couple of years ago, a series of studies came out that showed that couples who work out together increase their chances of sticking to their exercise program by 90%! When the American College of Sports Medicine released their top 20 fitness trends for 2015, group personal training made it into the top half of the list. And one major fitness club in England studied 1,000 women and found that 64% of those who exercise together push themselves harder than when they do it alone. In fact, 31% of the women considered their friends to be the motivators they need to stay in good shape. Working out with a partner, friend, loved one makes for good health, motivation and sustained activity. It can also make for great romance too. Couples who do support each other’s working out, and work out together, find improved health in their relationship and are able to work out conflict more easily. A healthy body and a healthy relationship are like one flesh.

Want to fire up your romance? Want to tighten your emotional bond with each other? Want to help your partner fall more deeply in love with you? There’s enough research to fill up gigabytes of space indicating that working out leaves couples feeling more attractive, having more energy, feeling increased sexual desire and responsiveness, and finding improved sexual performance, regardless of age. In fact, one study at Harvard University of male and female swimmers found that swimmers in their 60s reported sex lives comparable to those in their 40s.
Given the fact that Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, what better time to think about a great date—a workout date!

After all, not only does going to the gym together enable couples to spend quality time with each other, it allows for discussion of mutual goals and fitness levels, creates opportunities for sharing a common commitment to well-being, creates mutual motivation, develops a deeper bond with each other, and offers many chances to celebrate each other’s successes.

Matters of the heart beyond cardio benefits are only some of the rewards you can look forward to with couples exercise. After all, pheromones and endorphins released from combined exercise will put you both, uh, in the “right frame of mind” for “after gym fun.”   There are studies that show that men and women who exercise regularly report better and more frequent sex with their partners –so how much more enjoyable can exercising with each other be?

Here are seven simple ideas to get started:
1. Take a class or two together.  From Les Mills to spinning to Yoga, and from stretching to Pilates, gravity and Zumba your gym has enough classes each week to satisfy your interests and needs, and stir your hearts.  Yes, you may need to try something new and different from your individual workout routine, but learning something new together can be fun! This builds the opportunity to be influenced by each other’s desires, and turn towards, not away from each other when you hit the gym door.
2. Do cardio side-by-side by finding two treadmills, stair machines, or bikes and work at your own speed—double headphones in the same iPod lets you share great music with a free app like Rock My Run!  Find other workout activities that you can do with each other that are different but compatible.  Lifting weights near the treadmill your partner is on gives you a chance to do your own thing, side by side.
3. Learn how to stretch each other—gently helping each other with a pull or push can ease each other’s muscles before and after a couples’ workout.  Just be gentle.  This is not the place to work out your anger!
4. Develop more trust with each other simply by serving as each other’s spotter when doing weight training.  Knowing your partner is there to assist you can aid in communication and trust building.  And there’s nothing like saying “thanks” to help a relationship.  Bench presses, chest flies, skull crushers all can provide opportunities to assist each other and demonstrate a feeling of safety with each other.
5. Do resistance exercises using each other serving as the resistance. Push-ups against the press of your partner and leg raises with resistance from your partner are only two ways to begin partner-assisted resistance.  It’ll help your arguments later, and help you learn to take important cues from each other.
6. Eye contact and communicating while exercising offer chances for intimacy building that can extend to other activities that are, well, a bit more intimate and reserved for out of the gym exercise.
7. Here are a four intimate exercises you may want to reserve for home:
The Clam Stretch to loosen your hips and lower back. Begin sitting on the floor facing each other with the guys legs spread open as far as possible with the women doing the same thing only with resting feet on the inside of the guy’s ankles. Reach for each other’s hands, guys lean back and slowly pull your lady toward you. Hold for about 15 or 30 seconds and reverse the stretch.
The PushUp to focus on strengthening your chest and arms. Guys, start by lying on the floor on your back and girls get in a pushup position right above the guy. Girls, lower yourself until you are in kissing range, KISS, and then push back up. After a comfortable amount of reps, switch positions.
The Loving Situp focuses on your abs and back. OK, guys, sit in a chair or on the edge of a bed or couch. Girls, sit on your guy’s lap facing him with your legs comfortably positioned around his hips. Guys if need be, support her with your hands on her hips. Girls lower your body as far back as you comfortably can, sit up and do it again. This is primarily for women to do this movement.
The Bed Pillow Switch also targets the abs. Take a bedroom pillow in outstretched arms and facing back to back, rotate at your waist as far as you can to one side and pass the pillow to your partner who has twisted in the same direction. Then whoever received the pillow twists in the opposite direction and the other person takes it. Keep going until you are ready to put your heads down on the pillow.

It’s well known that exercise is good for the body, soul and mind.  Now add that it’s also good for your relationship.  Your home, the gym, the hiking trail, the track, the bike path, the pool and a host of other fitness sites may just be the healthiest date destinations in your community.  Have a very healthy, happy and fun Valentine’s Day.