by Beth Shepard, M.S., ACE-CPT, ACSM-RCEP, Wellcoaches Certified Wellness Coach
12 Ways to Be Active With Your Valentine
- Rent a canoe and enjoy a picnic lunch on the water.
- Go for a walk after dinner.
- Learn to dance — swing, tango, waltz or two-step.
- Take a swing at the batting cages.
- Sign up for a martial arts class.
- Plant and tend a garden.
- Enjoy a refreshing day hike to a new destination.
- Play backyard badminton or basketball.
- Train together for a 10K fun run or sprint-distance triathlon.
- Take an active vacation.
- Help build a house, clean up a park, or plant trees.
- Grab your GPS for a geocaching date.
Need another good reason to squeeze in a daily walk or sweat it out at the gym? Regular exercise bestows a wealth of benefits for the mind, body, and spirit — and along the way, it can perk up your love life.
An Element of Excitement
Comfortable routines aren’t all bad — but if the extent of your weekend fun is pizza and a DVD, re-ignite the flame by learning the two-step, going on a day hike, or enjoying a bike ride on a new trail.
Being active together through sports or fitness activities is a proven way to protect your relationship against boredom. One study found that married couples who experienced new and exciting activities together reported higher levels of relationship satisfaction compared with couples who shared only familiar or mundane activities.
Men tend to build bonds through shared activities rather than simply talking about their thoughts or feelings. Chances are that joining your guy for a run will bring you closer— and glean more conversation — than saying, “let’s talk.”
Does fatigue or the blues ever dampen your desire and interfere with fun together-time? Moderate exercise — like walking or biking — can boost mood for up to 12 hours. Even 10 minutes of exercise cultivates feelings of calmness, relaxation and well-being — and that bodes well for relationships and romance. Regular physical activity is often included in treatment plans for mild depression and anxiety — because it promotes good brain health and elevates mood.
To brighten your mood all day — and into the evening —grab a jump rope and enjoy a quick workout. Or go for a walk during a work break. Small investments in fitness and mood enhancement can really pay off — for both you and your partner.
Better Body Image
Exercise helps you feel better about your body, and that makes a big difference in the romance department. For college-age men, self-reported fitness levels significantly improve perception of sexual performance and desirability — and for women, the same is true for perceived desirability. A study of female breast cancer survivors found those who exercised regularly reported significantly better body image and perceived sexual attractiveness — along with markedly higher energy and less fatigue and depression than sedentary subjects.
Fitness may also help cultivate a more fulfilling sex life in older adults —a survey of active members of a fitness association linked higher fitness levels with more frequent sexual activity. Higher fitness levels were also linked with greater sexual satisfaction in older men, but not in older women. Granted, the survey respondents self-selected and may have been healthier to begin with, but if there’s a possibility that exercise could enhance intimacy, why not give it a try?
Enhanced Sexual Function
Too much exercise can result in overtraining, fatigue, and reduced sex drive, but the right amount can actually enhance sexual function. Health experts point out that exercise improves circulation all over the body, and that includes sexual organs. Several studies have shown that a combination of regular exercise and weight loss reduces erectile dysfunction in overweight and obese men. While one study showed an improved sexual response in women after 20 minutes of vigorous exercise, more research is needed to better understand the effect of exercise on female sexual function.
Live Longer — Together
Sharing an active lifestyle with someone you love can be one of life’s greatest pleasures. Raising children, maintaining a home, working, and travelling — everyday life pursuits — demand a significant amount of energy, strength, and endurance. When you’re fit, you can do more with less effort, and enjoy many activities that sedentary people can’t physically tolerate. Best of all, when you and your partner make regular exercise a priority, you reduce your health risks — and increase your odds of a long and healthy life together.
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- WebMD, 18 Secrets Guys Wish You Knew, 2010. http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/slideshow-18-secrets-guys-wish-you-knew
- Kilpatrick M, Exercise, Mood, and Psychological Well-Being: A Practitioner's Guide to Theory, Research, and Application, ACSM'S Health & Fitness Journal. 12(5):14-20, September/October 2008.
- American College of Sports Medicine, News Release, Boost your mood at least half the day with physical activity, May 2009. http://www.acsm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=ACSM_News_Releases&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&CONTENTID=12890
- Meston C, Gorzalka C, The effects of immediate, delayed, and residual sympathetic activation aon sexual arousal in women, Behav Res Ther Vol. 34 No. 2, pp. 143-148, 1996. http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/group/MestonLAB/Publications/sns_imm_delayed.pdf
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