The American Journal of Epidemiology monitored the health behaviors of nearly 8,900 adults over several years and found that both men and women who got married during that time tended to lose a significant amount of their cardiovascular fitness.
Most husbands and wives don’t need a study to tell them that being married might derail their fitness regime. As a seasoned personal trainer, I’ve listened to many men and women stress over balancing their career, marriage, family, and health.
Though it may be difficult, staying fit is a most worthwhile endeavor for married couples. Research suggests that couples who stay fit experience benefits that contribute to the success of their marriage.
Three years ago, during a premarital counseling session with our pastor, my husband-to-be and I made a commitment to one another. We promised to make our health a priority in our marriage – we jokingly call it our “fatty clause.”
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I will never forget the look of surprise on our pastor’s face when we brought up the role of fitness in our marriage. She said we were the first couple to ever select health as a priority.
At the time, I thought our “fatty clause” was just a sensible measure to help us avoid lifestyle related disease and a spreading midsection, but our mutual commitment to health has become so much more.
As a young married couple, we’ve made lots of plans. Some have worked out and others didn’t. As I am writing this we are living in Costa Rica – that was never part of our life plan, but here we are!
Even when the world around us feels like its upside-down (a common occurrence when living outside your home country), we’re able to ride the storms of life out together. Research would suggest that our commitment to physical fitness has contributed to our healthy marriage.
- Regular exercise can help you and your spouse maintain a healthy self image. According to a University of Arkansas study men and women who are physically fit tend to feel more sexually desirable (Penhollow & Young 2004).
- Couples that are physically fit are more likely to respond to stress better. The American Physiological Association suggests that exercise gives your body a chance to practice responding to stress. Thus when you encounter the emotional stress of day-to-day life, you’re physiologically better at handling those stressful experiences.
- Exercise can enhance a couples sex life. Engaging in intense physical activity can stimulate blood flow and nervous system activity that can boost sex drive.
- Couples who share new experiences together, stay together. A study published in 2000 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, demonstrated that sharing in new and exciting activities is consistently associated with better relationships (Aron 2000). Try mixing up your workout routine by going on a weekend hike or bike ride together.
Whether you use working out as alone time or as a time together, the benefits to your well-being will affect your marriage in surprising ways. I want to encourage every couple to use physical fitness as a way to keep their marriage in shape.
After 3 years of marriage, I’m more committed to my husband and my health with each passing day. Making room in our life together for regular workouts is the second best decision we have ever made.
Erika Volk is a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach who has a passion for helping people make their everyday lives just a little bit healthier. She specializes in TRX training, fitness travel, and online coaching.
Erika lives with her husband in a beautiful little beach town somewhere in Costa Rica. Visit her website at erikavolkfitness.com to learn more about how Erika can help you make the most out of your workout.
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