Fitness: The Best Couple’s Therapy

Good things — like healthy habits and exercise — come in twos

Couple mountain biking

Want to get fit? Then bring your spouse along for a bike ride, says James Manson, Director of Exercise Physiology at Cleveland Clinic Canada.

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Spouses or couples who work out together create a social support network that benefits them both, explains Mr. Manson. Working out together acts as a motivator to increase individual activity and encourages long-term healthy habits. 

Nonstop togetherness isn’t necessary, though. If one partner likes yoga and the other prefers a game of squash, that’s OK. “Research shows that the happiest couples are those who like to exercise together, yet also give each other the space to exercise apart,” Mr. Manson says.

A lifetime of activities awaits couples who stay fit together. Below is a list of ideas to get you started.

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Couples in their 30s and 40s

Children are often a big part of life at this stage, so find activities to do both as a family and alone.

Family time:

  • Chase the kids around the park instead of sitting and watching them play.
  • Push the little ones on a bike or in a stroller and walk with them to the store.
  • Kick or throw a ball or Frisbee around the yard, or build a snowman or sandcastle.

Solo time:

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  • Take turns watching the kids on weekend mornings while your spouse goes for a bike ride, for a run or to yoga class.
  • Use the home exercise equipment or aerobics DVD when the kids are asleep.
  • Commit to one dedicated Pilates class/soccer game/aquafit session per week.

Couples in their 50s and 60s

By now, if you have kids, they’re independent, finances are more secure and leisure time is more available. Time to try something new:

  • Take a bike ride to the local store.
  • Enjoy an evening walk after dinner. (Use the hands-free option on your cell phone to catch up with family or friends while walking.)
  • Sign up for ballroom dance classes.
  • Start a morning walking group with neighbors.
  • Join a weekly bowling or tennis club.
  • Fit in a 15-minute strength and balance training routine each morning.

Couples in their 70s and older

Now is not the time to let exercise fall by the wayside. It’s important to establish a regular routine:

  • Join an exercise group that meets at least twice weekly.
  • Take a brisk walk at the same time every day.
  • Spend time with grandkids hiking, playing in the park or kicking a soccer ball.
  • Make regular strength and balance practice part of your bedtime routine.
  • Set a meeting place with friends that’s convenient to walk to.

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