Why Working Out Together Could Be Better Than Couples’ Therapy

Photographed by Ashley Batz.
You’re probably aware of all the benefits that working out on the regular has on your overall health and well-being, from reduced stress to a boosted immune system. But are there any pros of working out with your romantic partner? (Well, besides getting to see him or her all sweaty and glistening.) Psychologists agree that, while it doesn’t necessarily replace couples' therapy, working out with your significant other acts as a great supplement. “Exercising together is a good place to start to rebuild a connection and have fun together, which is often...why I suggest it in my work with couples who are having conflict,” explains couples' counselor Kelley Kitley, LCSW. Even if your relationship is running smoothly, there are still benefits to be gained from working out as a couple. Here are five reasons to start working out with your S.O. It inspires camaraderie.
“When you start working out together as a couple, you’re viewed as a go-to person for other outdoor, strenuous activities,” explains Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, a relationships counselor and founder of the counseling app RelationUp. “When you’re sweating it out at the gym together, your partner is experiencing you as being strong and fit. Consequently, when they may want to try rock climbing or go paragliding, they naturally think of you. You two now find yourselves creating lots of meaningful memories, bonding over common passions and setting the tone for a fun, spicy relationship.” You’ll feel more connected to each other.
“Tossing a medicine ball to each other, lifting weights in time together, or matching your running pace with each other is called nonverbal matching,” explains counselor Crystal Bradshaw, MA. “This helps people feel emotionally connected with their partner, and thus they feel they have bonded with each other, because doing these activities requires a couple to create a context in which they must be present with each other mentally to coordinate the necessary moves. They have to be attuned to each other. When people experience that connection, they tend to report increased feelings of bonding.” It enhances your sex life.
“Nothing gets the sexual juices flowing [more] than seeing your partner a strenuous workout,” says Milrad. “And as you are marveling, you are experiencing all the the symptoms of physiological arousal — sweaty hands, a racing pulse, shortness of breath from your own workout.” You’ll both feel more supported.
Not only are you more likely to stick to your workout regimen if you have a partner to motivate you, but psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert says that working out as a couple creates a layer of support that’ll help you both reach your fitness goals. “Working out as a couple provides an opportunity to bond over a common goal,” he explains, “which is getting and staying in shape. To that end, couples can serve as a source of support and motivation to each other.” You’ll feel more confident (and less jealous).
“Working out releases certain hormones that can be invigorating and lead to a feeling of confidence, and even sexiness,” Alpert explains. “Endorphins are produced in the brain and released during exercise, and exercise also stimulates the production of dopamine, which can lead to increased feelings of pleasure. A high, almost. This plays a major role in mood. Feeling confident can help to safeguard someone from feelings of jealousy that can often exist in a relationship. When feeling will help to limit comparing yourself to others.”

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