Welcome to Part 2 of the mini-series on Fitness and Marriage! In Part 1, I shared my story about how I realized that exercising and feeling great physically benefited my own marriage.
As promised, in this follow-up, we will take a look at the Mayo Clinic’s article outlining the Seven Benefits of Regular Physical Activity. However, instead of following their lead and talking about how exercise helps you personally, makes your heart beat more efficiently, yada, yada, yada, we are going to give a little thought to how these Benefits relate to our marriages. What else would you expect from EngagedMarriage.com?
So, here are the Mayo Clinic’s Seven Benefits with my own commentary explaining why you should actually care about this stuff (other than that whole heart thing):
1. Exercise Improves Your Mood
Have you ever had a small issue turn into an all-out fight with your spouse for what seemed like no good reason? Chances are one of you was just in a pissy mood to start with and things spiraled out of control unnecessarily.
Physical activity stimulates chemicals in your brain that leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out. Not to mention the fact that you’ll be looking good and feeling more self-confident (and perhaps a bit less defensive). Bottom line: you don’t pick silly fights when you’re fresh off a “runner’s high”.
2. Exercise Combats Chronic Diseases
This goes back to the heartbeat issue and well beyond it. If you stick to an exercise ritual, you will greatly reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and a host of other major diseases. You will be around longer and enjoy a higher quality of life with your spouse. Heck, maybe you’ll even win an Anniversary Dance one day if you really get in gear.
3. Exercise Helps You Manage Your Weight
Do you think your spouse would find you more attractive if you lost a few pounds? To me, that’s not even the real question. The key is that you feel attractive and confident about your looks. That will have a huge impact on your marriage and your sex life.
It’s pretty simple: when you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn and the easier it is to keep your weight under control. No beer belly = more confidence!
4. Exercise Boosts Your Energy Level
Personally, this is probably the biggest benefit I see from regular exercise. After a long day of work, I will spend time playing with the kids, getting them ready for bed, doing chores around the house, trying to maintain a connection with my hobbies (like blogging) and all of the other duties I need to fulfill as the man of the house. My wife has even more to do. Where does that leave us at the end of the night when we need to spend some quality time together?
With the need for more energy! The good news is that your cardiovascular efficiency and your overall energy levels will improve with regular exercise. Here’s to late night blogging (and “quality time”)!
5. Exercise Promotes Better Sleep
I don’t know about you, but the core of most of the “disagreements” in our marriage stem from my wife or I being crabby due to a lack of sleep. With all of the demands of modern life, sleep is the easiest thing to give up.
But it doesn’t stop with your sleep schedule. You need to have quality sleep during the precious time that you devote to rejuvenation. Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep. And that will help your marriage.
6. Exercise can put the Spark Back in Your Sex Life
Do you like sex? Then exercise. Enough said.
Okay, so I guess I should provide some facts here to clarify how this correlation occurs (although all you really need to know is that time on the treadmill improves time in the sack). Not only does exercise leave you feeling energized and looking better, but it can actually lead to enhanced arousal for women. And men with regular fitness routines are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise (especially as they get older).
Do you really need any more reasons?
7. Exercise can be Fun!
While I love P90X and the results it provided me, you really don’t have to be as intense and overt with your fitness routine. Your activity can be purely fun as long as you do it consistently.
You could take a dance class (not my cup of tea, but maybe that works for you). On the more manly side of things, you could try rock climbing or take a long hike. Get your whole family involved with a trip to the park. Plan a neighborhood kickball or touch football game. Find a physical activity that you enjoy, and go for it. If you get bored, try something new. If you’re moving, it’s exercise!
Now that you have read these benefits and thought about how fitness not only benefits your physical health but your relationship and your family life, I bet you are fired up. Heck, you’re probably running in place and taking your pulse right now, just hoping I would cut this post a little short so you could get outside to knock out a few sets of wind sprints before you ride your bike to work today.
Personally, I’ve written this entire post while maintaining a perfect Downward Dog yoga pose.
Okay, I realize that it will take more than my posts to get you into a regular fitness routine. However, I do sincerely hope that you will consider your spouse and your marriage when you are looking for motivation to get to the gym, go for a walk or pop in your Tony Horton DVD.
So, now you have all the reasons you should ever need to take action and improve your level of fitness. What could possibly be holding you back?
Oh, right. You are letting that whole finite, 24 hours in a day baloney hold you back. Trust me, I feel your pain and I have some advice that I hope will help you see that you can (and really must) make time to invest in your health and your marriage. T-I-M-E is what Part 3 of this little series is all about!
Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.