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Fit for love? Regular exercise can be an important factor in satisfying personal relationships

Fit for love? Regular exercise can be an important factor in satisfying personal relationships

Looking after your health and fitness can have all sorts of beneficial effects on your personal relationships. This Valentine's Day, ditch the obvious clichés and get creative about getting fit together.

Just in case the sea of pink and red hearts that has been sweeping the nation's High Streets and supermarkets has passed you by, Valentine's Day is fast approaching. But what place does romance have on a fitness website? Surely there is nothing romantic about the thrice-weekly slog on the treadmill?

Well, okay, even we at admit that a meal out with a glass of fizz is a more obviously romantic gesture than an invitation to a joint workout. But that doesn't mean that health and fitness are irrelevant when it comes to the happiness of our personal relationships. Looking after your physical health has important beneficial effects on your emotional wellbeing, including how you relate to other people.

Exercise that you genuinely enjoy is a great way to socialise, whether that's meeting new people or spending quality time with loved ones. It's a way of having fun together and developing shared interests and hobbies, which can contribute both to the frisson of a new relationship and the day-to-day glue that holds a long-term relationship together.

Then there's the rush of endorphins that comes with a good workout. Regular exercise is associated with higher levels of feel-good hormones and better adaptation to stress. This sort of positive effect on emotional wellbeing is likely to make you more approachable to, and more likely to approach, other people – whether you're just looking for some friendly social contact or hoping for a bit more.

Exercise is associated with improved self-confidence. People who exercise regularly are generally more aware of and comfortable about their bodies, looking and feeling more attractive than their couch potato counterparts. Couple that with the fact that those feel-good hormones we just mentioned also tend to boost your sex drive... Well, we don't need to spell it out, do we?!

Exercising together provides an opportunity to bond on all sorts of levels. During a joint workout, you're there to motivate, support and encourage each other. You're looking out for each other's safety. You're sending out the message that you care about your own and the other person's health and well-being, demonstrating both respect and pride for yourself and each other. And the opportunity for a little playful competition is not without attraction either.

If exercise is good for relationships, relationships are also good for exercise. Exercising with a partner can provide some much-needed balance to your regular regime. It is typically the case that women prefer cardio workouts whereas men focus more on strength. A joint workout that encompasses both partners' preferences can therefore be a more balanced, rounded workout.

Making fitness work for your relationship

Many and varied as the benefits of looking after your health are, a positive effect on your relationship doesn't happen automatically just because you're going to the gym three times a week. And the last thing you want is for exercise to become a bone of contention in your relationship. So how can you go about making fitness fun, sexy and loving?

A lot of it is about the way you approach the whole idea. You'll need plenty of patience and open-mindedness to accommodate your loved one's preferences and fitness levels, and it's important to cultivate a positive, light-hearted attitude. Remember, this is supposed to be something you're doing for fun, to look after each other in a very deep sense and to develop a closer bond – it's not about showing off, one-upmanship, or railroading your other half to conform to your interests.

With that attitude in mind, you could try some of the following:

  • Look for group classes that allow you to work at your own fitness level. Some group exercise classes are better than others for couples. The ones that tend to work best are the ones that allow for different levels of fitness, so that neither of you feels either pushed too hard or not challenged enough. Spinning is a good example.
  • Work out side-by-side. Find two cardio machines next to each other and work out together. You can each go at your own individual pace and intensity whilst also keeping each other company.
  • Swap exercise routines. Try out each other's approach to exercise. Go along to her yoga class. Have a go at his resistance training routine. It shows open-mindedness and interest in each other.
  • Try something that's new for both of you. Talk about things you've always wanted to try out – whether it's rock climbing or training for a charity run. You might find out all sorts of things about each other. And there's nothing like being absolute beginners together for creating a deep bond!

We'd love to hear what role fitness and exercise play in your relationship and whether you have any tips to pass on – please take a moment to post a comment below!