The couple that trains together stays together. But, let's face it, not everyone loves hitting the gym and lifting weights. However, having similar lifestyle preferences can ultimately make or break even the strongest bond. If you live an active lifestyle and your significant other prefers more sedentary activities (Netflix anyone?), it hinders together time and can lead to feeling distanced from your partner.
“When a couple works out together, the actual exercise itself can physically and emotionally have a positive impact,” according to marriage and relationship psychotherapist Dr. Jane Greer via YouBeauty. "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."
Psychotherapy aside, some people may need a little extra encouragement in order to get moving, which can mean you end up walking a fine line between motivator and nagger. In order to avoid nagging your partner (which will likely have the opposite effect), here are ten healthy strategies to promote getting your partner off of the couch and back into the groove with you.
Suggest just going on a walk together
Springing from a sedentary lifestyle to the gym is likely to be unappealing, so start small. Invite your partner on evening walks with you around your neighborhood. This will also give you alone time to bond, away from the distractions of the TV or computer. Your partner is likely to feel energized after the walks and this alone may boost them to be even more active. You can get in a couple of miles in a brisk walk in the evening and use it as a stepping stone to build up to more intense activities, plus it is a great way to see your neighborhood or city in a new light.
Go hiking on your next vacation
If your dream vacation includes eating your way through Italy or lounging on a beach in the Caribbean, you are not alone. But, you can easily make your next vacation more active and still enjoy all of the other indulgences, to the benefit of both you and your partner. Make your next vacation more active by incorporating a day of hiking. It can be as leisurely or as strenuous as you'd like, and remember to take plenty of sunscreen and water and to dress appropriately for the climate. A few hours of hiking together will help reconnect you with your partner and with nature at the same time, as well as burn calories. If your partner doesn't like the idea, suggest rewarding yourselves with a spa treatment afterwards at the hotel for your hard work... they are likely to agree! After a great initial hike experience, your partner will likely be open to the idea and may even get so excited that the two of you can plan a whole active vacation. Check out some of the best hiking vacations.
Take a run to a new brunch place and back
Who doesn't love brunch? Running to brunch is a phenomenal idea for various reasons: 1) you are able to run on the weekend, so there is no time constraint, 2) it is a fabulous way to enjoy the nice weather on the weekend, 3) you get to run to the brunch destination, eat whatever you want without feeling guilty, and then run it off, and 4) you can get away with wearing running clothes at many brunch places. Give it a try. Suggest it to your partner and get them excited by choosing a new brunch place that he/she has been wanting to try. You can start out with shorter runs 1-2 miles from your home and increase the distance over time. Your partner may love the feeling of accomplishment so much that they start running for the sake of running too!
Run a 5K together for your favorite charitable cause
Everyone likes to volunteer their time and / or money to their favorite charity or cause. Many charities will have sponsored teams for local races. You will usually have to raise a certain amount of money for the charity which you can easily do through your family, friends and workplace. Another bonus to this is that the charity will usually have a mixer before the run and / or immediately after so it is a great way for you to meet other people and couples that share your passion for the charitable cause. Plus, with the added motivation of performing on game day and the thrill of the crowd cheering them on, your partner is likely to be more motivated and have a great time doing something that they might otherwise not be so excited about.
See the city on bike
This is another great vacation idea but can also be done in your home city. Rent bikes or, if you have them, use your own, and see the sights of a vacation city or enjoy your own familiar territory. Any major city has bike tours which are insanely fun in their own right, and many major cities now have bike share programs such as the one shown here for London, which makes it easy and cheap to rent a bike. Your partner will forget they are even getting any exercise looking at the distractions around them, and you can make it a habit to always go on bike tours on vacation, for example, or go for long bike rides on the weekend. Be careful if you are riding in a city with traffic and always wear helmets!
Do pushups in between your TV sessions
Finding it impossible to get your partner to stop watching 7 straight hours of Netflix episodes? Want to get them moving? Try to turn it into a game or challenge by incorporating sets of pushups either every time something happens in a TV show (for example, every time someone says a certain word or phrase that is commonly used) or in between short 20 minute episodes. Alternatively, you can incorporate any exercise or short circuit here. For example, 3 sets of 10 pushups, 25 air squats, and 10 pull-ups. Don't worry if your partner can't do that many reps or has perfect form, the goal is to make it fun, encourage them, and get them moving. Tell them what a great job they did and if it is some kind of challenge let them win sometimes.
Join a club sport team together or with friends
If you live in an area that has club sports, join a team as a couple or, even better, recruit some of your friends and form a whole team! Choose a more active sport such as volleyball versus a less active one like kickball. Even if just you and your partner sign up together, you can usually be placed together as individuals on a group team. It will be a great way to meet new people that share a common interest and expand your social circle, something that will be key if you tend to currently have more sedentary friends.
Sweat in a hot yoga class
Hot yoga and Bikram yoga are challenging forms of yoga that appeal to men and women of all ages. Simply remaining in the heated 105F room for the 90 minute class will be a challenge at first, however the health benefits and the sense of accomplishment afterwards will be immense. In addition, being in a room full of mirrors in minimal clothing may force your partner to face the facts that they are not in the shape that they once were in. This self-realization may be all the motivation that they need in order to start making real and lasting changes to their activity level and diet. Remember to be encouraging and positive after the class and let them know that the second class is infinitely easier than the first. Consistency is key!
Pump iron in the gym together... or even get him / her a personal trainer to learn the ropes
If you have managed to get at least a few of the previous suggestions to work with your partner, you may be ready for the big leagues... the gym. Many people, especially when they have become in worse shape than they used to be, find it incredibly discouraging to face reality in the weight room. Moreover, they are likely to be sore for a couple of weeks and there is a critical 2-3 week period to get over the hump of getting back into working out. Ease your partner into going to the gym with you by sticking to an easier and shorter routine, say 30 minutes. If they do not know how to navigate their way around a gym or feel intimidated, help to educate them by doing exercises that are more appropriate for their fitness and comfort level. Remember, the key here is not really to be working out for yourself but to make sure that your partner has a positive experience. Go to the gym twice a day if you have to: once with him/her, and once for yourself. Even if you have to do this for a few weeks, the positive experience will pay off in spades when they begin to want to up the ante and do more and more challenging exercises. Which they will, trust me, as soon as they see and feel their body changing. Alternatively, you can also accomplish this with a personal trainer. Just make sure that you do with you think will work best for your partner.
Reinforce an active lifestyle with healthy eating habits
Don't throw away all of that hard work on increasing your partner's activity level with a garbage diet. If you already eat pretty healthy, simply stay on the same path. If you or your partner could clean up the diet, start by making small changes. For example, skip dessert after dinner. Don't eat after 8 PM. Cut out the soda. Gradually making moves to a clean and healthy diet will amplify the physical results of a more active lifestyle. For more information on why and how to eat a varied diet, see The health benefits of phytochemicals.
Set an example and be encouraging!
Attitude and motivation is extremely important to achieving success in any case, and fitness is no different. Do not put your partner down or nag them, ever. All that this will do is backfire on you. Remember to stay positive, set a good example, and be persistent. If you suggest one strategy a couple of different times and it does not work, try another. If all else fails, look for other reasons that your partner may be resisting you. Depending on the situation, it is possible that your partner may be depressed or have other emotional issues that is causing them to resist you. If this is the case, seek professional help. And in every case, before you or your partner engage in any physical activity, it is a good idea to get an OK from a medical professional. Best of luck to you!