While I’ve been warming my coffee cup each morning, I’ve noticed the tremendous number of my neighbors who are fitness walking or biking through our neighborhood. They look happy out there, taking advantage of this Indian Summer we’ve enjoyed – inspiring, almost.

A good number of these walkers appears to be couples: husband and wife who made a smart decision to start their days with some fresh air and exercise. If better physical fitness is what they’re after, research and experience say they’re on to something.

Consider first a 2012 study of 58 women by the Michigan State University’s Department of Kinesiology, which found that women who cycled with virtual partners exercised for twice as long as those women who worked out alone. In addition, there was a noticeable decline in intent to exercise among those who cycled by themselves; those who exercised with a virtual partner had no decline in motivation.

Years before that study, researchers from the Indiana University Department of Kinesiology found in a study of married couples who belonged to a gym that only 8 percent of the participants who exercised with their spouses quit compared to half of the participants who exercised independently of their spouses.

I mulled this over with yet another cup of coffee, and called on local fitness professional Mary Parthe to explain how easy it is for couples – who may be at very different levels of physical fitness – to exercise together. She works out regularly with her boyfriend of five years Dan Falcon (who also owns Falcon Boxing Gym in Glenview), and knows far more about this than I do.

“We get to spend an hour together before we each go off and do our own things during the day,” Parthe said of her workouts with Falcon. “Dan and I support each other, and so on the mornings that I wake up and I’m dragging and don’t want to go, he encourages me and makes me feel good when we accomplish something. “Even when we’re working through issues that come up as a couple, we come together to spar in the boxing ring and do something together that’s constructive.

Couples might go out for dinner, but it’s easy for people to get distracted by their phones and whatever else and forget about really being in the moment. In the gym, you can’t have a phone in your hand when the boxing gloves go on.”

She said the same is true for many of the gym’s patrons.

“We see families coming in together to work out and encouraging each other, and really doing something positive,” Parthe said. “And in our Rock Steady Boxing class (a non-contact fitness class for people with Parkinson’s disease which emphasizes gross motor movement, balance, core strength and rhythm in order to improve participants’ range of motion, flexibility, posture and gait), we have a lot of couples coming to class together even though only one partner has Parkinson’s disease. They are helping each other, working together at very different levels of physical strength, and it is beautiful to see.”

While I was still trying to digest that most inspiring image that Parthe had described, I asked her how an average couple might start their own exercise habit. She didn’t hesitate for a second with her response.

“Just say, ‘let’s go for a walk, let’s go work out together.’”

If you’re not working out together, how do you and your spouse creatively carve out time together?

Email joanna@northshoreweekend.com
Source: Fitness Feed – English