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'Let’s go for a run!' by Ellen Mimi Owusu

By Ellen Mimi Owusu
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My husband and I are different in so many ways; he supports Manchester United, I support Chelsea, I love watching romantic and comedy movies, he is into Thrillers and Horrors, he loves manual cars, (which I cannot stand!) I am team automatic; he is always hot, am always cold, the list is endless.

But we have found a common interest besides our affection towards each other and that is keeping fit. In the past, a simple request like – “let’s go for a run” evoked very mixed reactions from me. I certainly would love to go for a run because it was fun, but I just dreaded it.

I found it a challenge to keep up with him and sometimes the energetic kids. I always come back home so exhausted. But I can confidently say that since I started working out with my husband, going for a run or any form of exercise with him is a double blessing – staying fit while having fun together. Also, I am discovering and continue to discover the benefits of working out with my partner.

To begin with, working out together has given each of us a sense of accountability. Because we workout together, we have a structure, we have workout days and rest days, days we go to the gym and days we workout at home, days we go for a run or a walk. Even when I feel I do not want to go for a run because it has rained the previous night (do not judge is a good excuse) he is there to remind me to get up and go.

If you are not up for exercising your partner is there to encourage and push you. Having a fitness buddy in a form of a partner can greatly help you to achieve your fitness goal. It is also easy for your partner to point out to you when you hit a plateau, also your partner can encourage you and drive you to work hard. I remember when we started going for runs, I could only run continuously for 5 minutes, stop, and walk a bit and continue the run, then it moved to 10 minutes continuously.

One day my husband challenged me (I think forced me) to run for 30 minutes without stopping. I felt so proud of myself after that run (yes! I will take the credit because it was my effort). If you have growing kids, the fun can even get bigger when you work out as a family. But of course, I prefer that time alone with my husband!
Working out with my partner also increases our emotional bond. When we work out together, we create a context in which we can coordinate our actions.

For example, when we do sit-ups or skip together in sync it creates this nonverbal matching, which helps us feel emotionally attuned with one another, and gives this feeling of having “bonded” with each other. Exercising together provides an opportunity to create such a connection, benefiting both our health and our relationship.

Exercising with my partner has no doubt increased our level of happiness in our relationship. Studies show that after jointly participating in an exciting physical challenge or activity, couples report feeling more satisfied with their relationships and more in love with their partner (Aron et al 2000).

Exercise is a perfect example of the type of invigorating activity that can have these positive effects, it brings happiness to your relationship, as everyone is happy. Thanks to endorphins. (The chemicals the body releases when one exercises which trigger positive feelings in the body.) If you participate in physical activity with your partner, you get to experience that together. Pushing and motivating each other, then experiencing results, creates positivity to bond over.

Exercising with a partner can also improve the efficiency of our workouts. A long-standing concept in social psychology is that the mere presence of someone else affects your ability to do an activity (Zajonc, 1965). Even if you already feel competent doing a particular exercise, bringing along your romantic partner may be a fantastic way to boost your energy output. Your partner’s presence will improve your speed, without you necessarily being aware of their influence.

This is so true because my husband always corrects me when my posture is not right for example when am lifting a barbell (he always shouts out; posture, form, lift, etc)

Exercising make your partner fall in love with you all over again. Exercise induces the symptoms of physiological arousal—sweaty hands, a racing pulse, shortness of breath. These symptoms mirror, in many ways, the thrill of romantic attraction. Use this phenomenon to your advantage by inviting your partner to workout with you.

You see, since I started to exercise my husband look at me differently, I mean differently, I have caught him so many times staring at me! And most importantly exercising improve your sex life because you are more confident in your body.

Working together as a couple can also help one achieve their fitness goals. When partners care about each other’s fitness, it becomes easier to achieve their individual fitness goals.

Research shows that if one partner shows more support for the other fitness goal, that partner can achieve more of their goals. Sharing in the ups and downs of a daily morning walk, a tough bike ride, or a strenuous Zumba class, is so comforting and reassuring.

My Tip for you: …………………………………………

Keeping fit as a couple does not have to be just going to the gym. Anything you do as a couple that involves movement can be classified as physical activity. If you are the one who has started their fitness journey and want your spouse to join, invite your partner to join you, encourage them to join you, however, note that you cannot force someone to exercise. So, the secret is to find an activity that you both like and make it fun.

Exercise should not be a necessary evil; it should be a lifestyle, which must be enjoyed. Doing a 30-minute exercise or any activity that involves movement is only 2% of your day. Aim to make a 2% deposit into your fitness goal daily. Keeping fit does not mean you are going to the gym 7 days a week, you are lifting weights, etc. It can be about going for a walk, going for a bike ride, skipping, etc doing a fun active activity. In sum, fitness can be about you, or it can be about you and your partner, so why not share this aspect of your lives, either regularly or just on occasion, and discover how doing so might give your relationship a new dimension and new life.

So yes, it is a great idea to go for a run with your partner. Go out and sweat out together. Stay Safe.