By Ginny Hain - Contributing Blogger
A sweetie. Main squeeze. Steady date. Partner in crime. A significant other can be many things to a person, but a workout buddy? You bet. The reasons to workout with a partner are well-documented and numerous. Furthermore, where love is involved, the benefits of ditching the solo workout include not only improvements to the body and mind but also the, er...bedroom.
As Valentine's Day approaches, here are some thoughts on why you might consider ditching the flowers in favor of giving your partner your hand in fitness this year. Or, on second thought, why not give them flowers and your hand in fitness?
Don't have a Valentine? No worries. Some of the bennies below can be gained through any partner workout, no matter the relationship. And being single can rock in its own way. So grab a buddy, put on 'All the Single Ladies' (even if you're a guy) and hit the gym.
But back to what's up with partner exercise...
1. Couples who exercise together feel closer. This is because physically intense activities create positive, yet challenging environments to work through. Who better to navigate them with, than your partner. Whether it's maxing out your respective weight classes side by side or pounding the pavement, studies show that facing workout challenges together increases relationship satisfaction and physiological arousal (ie. a feeling of love towards one's partner). The type of exercise doesn't necessarily matter, though doing something new together can amplify the results. Partner yoga, anyone?
2. Another psychological reason to make your boo your workout bud is that couples who exercise together increase their 'non-verbal matching' capabilities. 'Non-verbal matching' occurs during activities like running in step, jumping rope together, or tossing a Frisbee and can lead to heightened feelings of closeness or 'bondedness' to one another.
3. Exercising together also kills two birds with one stone. Life is busy and having enough free-time to split between your sweetie and sweatin' it out can be hard. By combining the two, you'll spend quality time together while also getting closer to your workout goals. As an added bonus, you'll both also be held accountable to keep on track with those goals. After all, it's harder to skip out on a workout when someone is waiting for you, especially if that someone shares the same bed as you.
4. Speaking of beds, let's not forget the more intimate benefits of partner workouts. For starters, about an hour after a workout, Testosterone levels are elevated in both males and females. Because testosterone is a hormone partially responsible for a number of functions in the body, one of which is sex drive, it's not surprising that many couples feel more inclined to get cuddly after a workout.
After an intense workout, you'll also likely experience an elevated pulse, blood pressure and breathing rate. These feelings (which are also associated with sex), experienced in the presence of your partner, boost something called the 'sympathetic nervous system' which, in turn, boosts feelings of arousal.
And don't forget about the how good you look! People who work out, even in small amounts, have improved body images. This is linked to higher self-esteem and a greater enjoyment of the body. With you and your partner feeling good about your bad selves, you'll feel more confident around each other, and who knows where that might lead.
5. Furthermore, by exercising together, you'll also both get in on the individual perks of getting fit. These include stress relief, improved sleep quality, and a boosted mood. Together, you'll also be able to reap those benefits more quickly. That old saying about time flying when you're having fun? Since working out with a partner is more enjoyable than exercising alone, the perceived amount of time it takes to complete is less. Because it's more engaging, you'll also be more likely to want to repeat it with regularity.
With so many reasons to work out together, why not make your partner in crime also your partner in exercise? Chances are, you'll thank each other for it.