Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Communication is essential for a long, happy marriage. Evidently, so is a good ...

A Match Made in Sneakers

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by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner

Communication is essential for a long, happy marriage. Evidently, so is a good workout. When was the last time you and your spouse took to the treadmill together …

middle-age couple, picThe mental and physical benefits of a happy marriage are indisputable, confirmed by countless studies and mounds of research. The perks don’t discriminate against gender, age, nationality, or sexual orientation. It seems the marital commitment to wedded bliss offers individuals its own version of a multivitamin.

Beyond boosting emotional health, marriage also has a direct effect on one’s physical well-being, including heart health. Studies show these benefits continue into later years. Elderly individuals in a happy marriage manage better than their single counterparts.

Healthy individuals make healthy couples.
Grow fit together.

Couples should build upon this foundation for a healthy life together. Exercise and healthy eating seems a natural response to this forged commitment. A fitness program is often more successful when accomplished with support from a workout buddy. Who better than your spouse or significant other!

Try to avoid these common scenarios for disaster. Work together toward fitness goals, and avoid becoming an “exercise widow/er.”

Left in the Dust

A healthy marriage allows each individual lifelong growth. Statistics prove many choose to grow in the direction of fitness. More than ever, the focus is on better living through exercise and nutrition. Endurance events like marathons, triathlons, and cycling have gained huge popularity, particularly with middle-agers.  If not approached with consideration though, the rigorous training involved can be more tiring for the family than the participant.

The solution: Make choices that bring you and your fitness guru closer together.  In life’s marathon, you rush by each other on a daily basis. Your bed is the day’s finish line where you collapse together in sleep. Redirect some of the energy you burn during the day to an exercise program.  If your spouse already has an established routine, create your own unique one. Sharing an interest in fitness does not mean you need to share the rowing machine.

It’s unlikely you and your mate need work on the same muscle groups or share the same fitness level. Even if you begin the journey together, one will probably advance more quickly. And that’s okay. Become strong enough to push pride aside and travel at your own pace.

Conflict may arise when one partner becomes an extreme exerciser. Multiple hours daily spent toiling at exercise goals can become “too much of a good thing.” The body needs time to rest in between sessions, and life needs to be lived. Children and grandchildren hope for a glimpse of you beyond a flash on the track.

Many an exercise partner becomes disinterested at this point. Any fun competition between you becomes saturated in sweat and frustration. Always being two steps and reps behind  may diminish confidence and introduce resentment. Sadly, these otherwise faithful partners may turn away from the ordeal and head for the couch with a bag of chips.

Stay Engaged

Healthy individuals make healthy couples.
Healthy individuals make healthy couples.

Don’t let skill level and vigorous training schedules bring distance to your relationship. Accept your partner’s drive to become a healthier person and perhaps a better athlete. The ambition involved is much more admirable than the spouse whose activity of choice is channel surfing from the easy chair. Often, training is most demanding in the weeks prior to a big event. Recognize this timeframe as temporary. Provide support, and plenty of bottled water.

Don’t feel banished to the sidelines, in your own workout or your marriage. Put yourself in first place, regardless of where you are. Remain committed to your own fitness program, with your unique goals and interests. An Ironman triathlon may not be for you, but Aqua Boot Camp may be.

Approach fitness as a team where you’re both winners. Perhaps set specific workouts as “couple time” where you can enjoy each other’s company. Make it a routine that is fun for you both. There must be a commonality in your fitness criteria. Ask a personal trainer to provide direction. A couple’s training session would be ideal. You can gain insight to help propel your workouts.

Leigh and Bill Segal, picKnow thyself and thy spouse. (Who better to know the quirks of your hamstring.) You may discover one’s upper body strength is great for raking while the other’s buff lower body earns them the lawnmower.

Take It to the Next Level– Together

Grow your relationship and expand interests. Cultivate other areas of interest that develop from a desire for healthy living. Redefine family time as a walk around the neighborhood. Learn about other cultures. World travel may not be in your budget, but you can experiment with the flavors of healthy foods from far-flung locations.

Make time for each other, in fitness and in health– and beyond. Marriage may set the stage for a healthier lifestyle, but it requires a lot of shared coaching.

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“A Workout Ate My Marriage,” by Kevin Helliker at www.wsj.com.

“How to Have a Healthier Marriage,” by Chris Iliades at www.everydayhealth.com.

Image Credits

Bride in sneakers (introductory photo): http://www.flickr.com/photos/abigael/222911490/

Happy couple: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cindi_matthews/3396654613/

Exercising in park: www.monkeybusinessimages at www.dreamstime.com.

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