Couples who sweat together, stay together

By Melissa Luby, Assistant News Editor


Looking for a romantic idea for Valentine’s Day? Try hitting the gym.

A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine indicates that couples that work together to form healthy habits are more likely to succeed. The study followed 3,700 couples who were either married or lived together over a period of four years. The study’s results showed that when one member of a relationship made a change in lifestyle—for example, a decision to quit smoking or lose weight—their partner was likely to have the same goal. Partners with the same goals were three times more likely to be successful when compared to couples in which only one partner made a lifestyle change.

A 2000 study reported in Psychology Today indicated that couples felt more satisfied with their relationship and more in love with each other after engaging in physically challenging activity. A follow-up study conducted in 2004 indicated that these emotions stemmed from “physiological arousal” that results from physical activity.

For junior Hardy Carroll and sophomore Kaity Legg, the satisfaction of working out together is less about physiology and more about time management. “It’s a way for us to make time out of our day to do something together that’s going to mutually beneficial and isn’t just the normal ‘Lets hang out,’ Legg said. “Mapping out a time in the day where we spend time just doing something together has really helped [our relationship].”

An older study, conducted in 1965, indicates that having a workout partner—whether a romantic partner or a platonic friend—impacts an individual’s ability to exercise on a psychological level. In some cases, the presence of a partner increases speed and intensity; when learning a new exercise, however, partners may hinder each other’s ability to learn.

Carroll and Legg recognize that there is, however, a fine line between motivation and competition. “You have to understand that going into a workout, you are both two separate people, and while one may be able to run two miles, the other can only handle a mile,” said Carroll. “You have to be aware of those differences, and I think we are.” Legg agrees. “I think we try really hard not to make it a competition, but [working out together] still makes us want to meet the same goals, she said. “It definitely motivates me to want to try the best that I can to meet our goals.”

Legg says that the key to successful “couple” workouts is to plan ahead by setting the goals for the workout beforehand. Communication is also important. “I think you also have to set boundaries and goals so it doesn’t start to hinder the relationship and communicate if it ever becomes something one of the two people no longer wants to do,” she said.

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