Couples do all kinds of stuff together. They cook, they clean, they eat, they drink, they work, they walk, they talk, the yell, they shop, they watch and they sleep. Some of the wilder ones play video games together and every once in a while, some of them, during full moons, after Lent, even have sex. But one great tandem activity on which I see a lot of couples missing out is exercise.
Many people have adopted exercise time as “personal” time. And while there’s nothing wrong with that; I support the need for alone time and not everyone likes being watched while they fight off tears during hyperventilation. But for the sake of relationship-building, it’s healthy once in a while to hit the gym at the same time. Or try each other’s exercise classes. Or go to yoga together. Or anything that makes you sweat. And no, watching The Amazing Race doesn’t count.
You don’t have to get in each other’s way or even talk for that matter. As Nike aptly says, sometimes, you have to just do it.
Here are a few reasons why.
Science: If you’re gonna get high, do it together
Whacky-haired people in white lab coats have proven that when you hit a certain degree of physical exertion, your body releases endorphins that cozy up to opioid receptors in your brain. These endorphins block the transmission of pain and contribute to a feeling of euphoria. Euphoria, people. Doesn’t that sound like something you want to experience with your partner without having to befriend a shady drug dealer? Doing things that give you a happy-spike with or around your partner is a great way to build and maintain a connection based on excitement and admiration. Throw on the spandex, break a sweat and get healthy-high together. And if you get the munchies after, make sure you eat something with protein.
Overcoming challenges and achieving common goals is great bonding
It’s one thing to stroll through life, hand-in-hand with your partner, observing, discussing and growing. It’s quite another to strap on gloves and kick life’s ass together like an even more sexually charged Batman & Robin. You don’t just want a companion; you want a sidekick. Having someone with whom you can power through exhausting hikes or limb-buckling gladiator camps will be a reminder that you’ve made a strong choice. At the foundation of any great relationship is sweat, support and teamwork.
While not about exercising specifically, check out the video below. It’s a great piece about getting out of your comfort zone and working to achieve common goals with your partner.
It’s attractive when someone wants to stay attractive
Despite the allure of altruistic, Bryan-Adams-love-song romance, the issue of “letting yourself go” is a real one. Yes, we promise to stick with our partners through thick and thin. But when people start getting too thick or too thin—barring any medical conditions of course—things can get shaky. That’s because ultimately, health management is psychological just as much as it’s physical. To a degree, this is all dependent on preferences and expectations, but it’s just plain attractive and confidence-boosting to watch someone put tangible effort into maintaining and enhancing the very physical state that helped seal the romantic deal in the first place. It’s respectful to our bodies and it’s respectful to our partners. Of course there’s more to a partnership than physical appreciation, but watching your partner stay hot is pretty damn hot.
Act like a power couple, feel like a power couple
Part of this is about looking great, but most of this is about feeling great. It does wonders for team-esteem to feel like an unstoppable, virile pair of ninjas. The more generally confident you feel together the more you’ll respect one another, the more fun you’ll have and the more things you’ll want to tackle in tandem. Nobody wants to hang around that couple that never stops boasting about their cute, notable accomplishments, but somewhere in the middle is that couple that just knows they rock. This can help you be that couple.
Watching your partner sweat is straight-up sexy
Not everybody gets turned on by people playing sports or performing intense physical labor…but a lot of people do. It’s that shirtless guy with the 5 o’clock shadow loading lumber into the back of his truck. It’s that girl with the neon headphones doing lunges with a medicine ball. Ok, maybe lunges are weird. But you get the point. The only thing hotter than your partner is your partner when they’re hotter. Pheromones, muscles, glistening necks, whatever – it’s all great. You might not think you look good when you work out, but from what I know, your partner does. And for those with a more mathy mind, PostWorkoutSex = Awesomeness.
Benjamin Mann is Toronto’s Standard dating columnist. Follow him on Twitter.