If you and your partner want to improve your well-being this year, setting couple workout goals together is a great way to kickstart new healthy habits. Here’s why.
For one thing, working out together offers you the chance to set shared goals, which has been shown to improve your chance of success. A 2015 study found that people were more likely to stay true to their goals, whether it was to stop smoking, exercise more, or lose weight if their partner also joined them.
Whether you love to walk, run or lift weights, completing a workout as a couple will improve your mental and physical health — both of which have been closely linked to relationship satisfaction.
Have a discussion with your partner about what couple workout goals you’d like to set, then add them to your diary and commit to them every week.
“A growing body of evidence suggests that couples that workout together really do stay together,” says Dr. Jacqui Gabb, Chief Relationships Officer at Paired and professor for Sociology and Intimacy at the Open University.
“Research by Arthur Aron and colleagues at the State University of New York at Stony Brook found that couples jointly participating in an exciting physical challenge or activity report feel more satisfied with their relationships and more in love with their partner. “
Creating a shared habit with your partner is a bonding experience you can both benefit from. Even if you prefer to work out alone, put aside the same time as your partner and walk to the gym together — even if you are going to go your separate ways when you get there.
On the flip side, Dr. Gabb says creating bad habits could also lead to your partner mirroring your behavior. “Corinne Reczek, a researcher at the University of Cincinnati found that if one partner has bad habits this is likely to influence the other one, leading the couple to ‘sync up’ their bad habits,” she explains.
“In heterosexual partnerships in the study, it was nearly always men who were viewed as the ‘bad influence’ while lesbian and gay couples were more likely to fall into ‘habit synchronicity’ sharing unhealthy habits equally.” The takeaway? Make your shared habit a positive one that you’ll both reap health benefits.
Not sure where to start when it comes to a couple’s workout challenge? Here are four simple couple workout goals that are guaranteed to improve your fitness levels, and might even improve your relationship, too.
Sign up for a sponsored run
Whether it’s a 5k or a half marathon, signing up for a sponsored run gives you a manageable shared goal to agree on together. This gives you a chance to work out together with your partner while you’re in training, and manage goals under pressure.
“Agreeing and achieving shared goals can strengthen the emotional bond between partners but this is not always as easy as it sounds as there may be significant differences between partners in their strength, availability of time, and other commitments,” says Dr. Gabb.
“It’s therefore important to identify ways to balance the scales and identify lifestyle changes or exercise routines that are achievable for both partners individually.”
Schedule a weekly bike ride
You don’t have to be an accomplished rider to agree to this couple's workout challenge. In fact, you don’t even have to own a bike. Most city centers or towns have places to rent bikes, so you can simply hop on and explore your local neighborhood together.
Set a date once a week or at least every fortnight to get out on the road and discover a new part of the cycling route. If you both have different health goals, exercising with your partner is a great alternative to date night — rather than a traditional date that could include alcohol or lots of calories.
Another great thing about a weekly bike ride is that it’s a chance to get out in nature. Spending time in nature has long been associated with a reduction in stress, improved confidence, and self-esteem, as well as mindfulness.
Join a gym together
Signing on the dotted line, especially when there is money involved, can be a big commitment, but joining a gym together means you’re not only working on those relationship goals, but also sharing a passion together.
Whether you both sign up for a spinning class, or run side by side on the treadmills, showing support for each other’s health goals is a sure-fire way to smash your fitness goals.
“Researchers at Pennsylvania State University found that collective support, motivation, and responsibility were most effective in enabling couples to take up and sustain changes to healthy lifestyles,” explains Dr. Gabb.
“Partners who adopt the mindset that they’re ‘in this together’ are the most successful in encouraging and taking up daily exercise, rather than those who face it alone and aren’t held to account.”
Do yoga in the living room
If you and your partner are less active and want a couple’s workout challenge which you can do at home, there are numerous yoga and meditation classes online. Agree on a goal of at least one yoga workout a week, for at least 30 minutes.
Don’t worry if you’ve never done yoga before, choose a beginners class, or a restorative class, where you hold calming poses for a few minutes.
Not only can yoga help with flexibility and strength, but it also promotes more restful sleep and reduced stress — so if you both have full-on jobs it could be the perfect half hour to calm you down and bond after the kids have gone to bed.