Updated: Dec 15, 2020
For some couples, it’s totally natural to hit the gym together, while others can’t imagine working out with their partner, ever. But science suggests there’s something to the saying that ‘couples who sweat together stay together.’ As it turns out, exercising with your significant other isn’t just good for your physical health, it’s also good for the health of your relationship.
Here are six research-backed advantages of working out with your partner on a regular basis and not just on this International Day of Love...
1. You Increase the Odds of Success
A landmark 2015 study found that when one romantic partner made a health-related change for the better, the other was highly likely to follow suit. The most influential changes people could make were quitting smoking and taking up exercise. What’s more, the study also found that having a partner who was consistently healthy — someone who has had a long-standing habit of exercising, for example — also made the other partner likely to adopt their habits, although to a slightly lesser extent.
When you think about it, it’s common sense that having a partner or spouse who works out would make you more likely to want to exercise, too. The takeaway here is that if you’re both committed to exercising regularly and get involved in each other’s health journeys, the odds are high you’ll both stay committed to your programs since you’ll have each other’s backs.
2. It Can Help Reignite Passion
This one’s especially relevant if you’ve been with your partner for awhile. Research suggests that participating in exciting activities or challenges with your S.O. can make you feel more satisfied in your relationship and possibly even more in love with your partner. At first they thought the idea of “novelty” or trying something new was a factor here, but a later study by the same researchers found the key is actually for the activity to be physically arousing, meaning it’s something that gets you up and moving together. That’s pretty much an exact description of what exercise is, and since it doesn’t have to be something new and different each time, you can get the relationship-boosting benefits simply by finding a workout you and your partner like to do together and making it a regular thing.
3. You Might Perform Better
Knowing someone else is watching and cheering you on as you go through your workout is an excellent motivator, especially when that person is your romantic partner. Research has consistently found that exercising with another person — particularly one who is fitter than you — will make you perform better. In most couples, there will be one person who is better conditioned, so the other is likely to get a better workout than they would on their own.
But both partners can actually benefit from working out together, regardless of their fitness levels. To get the full effect, try a true partner workout, where you have to jointly complete the work. One study found exercisers were more likely to push themselves harder when they were working together with a partner as opposed to simply exercising at the same time as someone else.
4. It Could Mean Less Fighting
Exercise has a ton of benefits you probably already know about, from helping to maintain a healthy body weight to lowering blood pressure and even aiding sleep. One of the most incredible upsides of working out, though, is what it does for mental health. Exercise is often touted for its mood-boosting properties, and one study found that even short, low-intensity bouts of exercise can make people feel more positive and calm. Tense moments are inevitable in any romantic relationship, so if working out is a regular thing for you and your partner, there’s a good chance the added dose of positivity and serenity will help you solve disputes amicably.
5. It May Deepen Your Bond
You know how people tend to imitate each other’s body language when they’re trying to make one another feel comfortable? That same kind of bonding mimicry applies to exercise, as well. By simply performing the same workout moves as your S.O., you’re not only getting your exercise in, but you may actually be bonding at a subconscious level by simply completing the same movements. One study found that when actions are led by both partners, the bond that mimicry creates was intensified, so try switching off who leads each section of the workout.
6. It Might Help You Enjoy Exercise More
The reason people are more likely to stick with exercise when they do it with their partner may have something to do with the fact that science says people enjoy their workout more when they do it with someone they know. In one study, participants reported being happier and having more fun during their workouts when they completed them with a spouse, friend or co-worker. Another study found the emotional support derived from working out with a partner made exercisers more likely to be capable of developing the internal drive to continue the habit of working out on their own, which is valuable considering you probably can’t work out with your S.O. all the time.