JOPLIN, Mo. —
Couples exercising together seems to be a no-brainer. Both members of the couple do something together, get healthy and inspire each other. Perfect match, right?
Sometimes joint exercise sessions cause more problems than promises of quality time together. Especially couples where one begins a high-intensity regimen, such as preparing for a triathlon.
That’s what Charlotte Sutton, of The Tampa Bay Times, discovered.
“For a time, I persuaded my husband to come to the gym with me. For a time, he persuaded me to come golfing with him,” she wrote. “Neither of these campaigns lasted long, possibly because he enjoys the gym about as much as I enjoy golf. These days, we content ourselves with occasional bike rides together, though we still have to negotiate over which route we’ll take.”
Sutton said her garage was filled with workout equipment that didn’t work out as planned, including bikes, kayaks, inline skates, clubs, rackets and bats.
Exercise grows in importance as couples age together. An Ohio State University study said that men and women older than 30 gain a significant amount of weight after marriage. Men tend to put on more than women, according to the study.
A 2010 study from the Cooper Clinic in Dallas found that married people tend to be less physically fit than their single counterparts. But a 2001 study published in the journal Quest found that couples who start exercising together stick with it longer.
Despite the challenges in matching workouts, there are plenty of ways that couples can get on the same track.
Medicine for health
A simple medicine ball can work wonders for couples, said Riana Rohmann, of Livestrong.com. There’s plenty for partners to do, including:
- Playing catch. Partners should stand 5 to 7 feet apart and toss the ball back and forth. For an extra challenge, add a small squat on each catch. Or add cardio by facing each other and shuffling sideways while throwing the ball back and forth.
- Crunches. Face each other, then perform a sit-up while holding the ball. On the way up, toss the ball to your partner.
- Get dizzy. Sitting back-to-back with your partner, but far enough that you have to lean back about 6 inches before your backs touch, pass the medicine ball in circles around you. Go in each direction for about 30 seconds. For variety, stand or kneel.
No equipment needed
If a medicine ball is just way too much equipment, then Rohmann recommends these exercises:
- Back-to-back squats. Lean against each others’ backs, then bend your legs until your thighs are almost parallel to the ground. Use each other as leverage to stand back up.
- Raise your hands. One partner drops their arms to the side, the other presses down on them. Let the pushing begin: The first tries to raise their arms while the second presses down. Take turns for a full shoulder and arm workout.
- You’re it. Play a simple game of tag. The game develops agility, speed and endurance. But be fair: Give your partner a second or two to get away.
Most of all, be patient with each other. Couples are bound to be at different levels physically, so it’s only natural to go for different levels of intensity. If you are above your partner, be patient. If you are below, don’t get frustrated Ñ you’re still doing things together.