In recent years, the date night has become an almost critical tenet of married life. If you’re not scheduling a date night every few weeks, well, you’ve got another thing to feel guilty about!
Except… who can really be bothered? When the thought of an uninterrupted few hours on the couch, tipple of choice in hand and box set of choice on the telly, leaves you turned on like nothing else, why would you want to go out in the chillier evenings to an overpriced restaurant with your significant other just to tick the box that is ‘date night’?
Rachel, 50, and Mike, 54, found themselves in exactly this rut. “Much as I love Mike, the thought of a date night was just too much for us to organise. First, we felt cheesy asking each other to go on one. We got married so we could stop dating.
“And second, every time we scheduled a date night, it got moved if another priority came up,” says Rachel.
“Yes, like picking up cat food from the vet before it closed, or dropping off one of the kids at a friend’s house,” says Mike, laughing.
The point is made. Modern households are busy places and a constant state of flexibility is needed to cope with everyone’s, even the cat’s, needs. It’s easy to see how a date night would fall down the list of things to do in light of this.
However, psychologists confirm that it is an affirming act for your relationship to regularly do things together. Rachel and Mike were well aware of this and had the desire to spend some quality time with each other, just not necessarily on a date.
“We both wanted to exercise more as we were feeling a little of that middle-aged spread and we realised that if we exercised together we’d be killing two birds with one stone,” says Rachel.
The benefits of exercising together
- Motivation is stronger. It’s more difficult to throw in the towel when your partner is relying on you to exercise with them. “Mike had a cholesterol scare and we knew that we had to increase our activity levels to look after our health,” Rachel says. “Saying I’m too tired to go on a date night is one thing; saying the same to an exercise date is different.”
- Healthy competition. You can compete with fellow gym members or friends too, but exercising with your partner means you both want success for yourself – and each other.
- You see each other in a new way. With the best intentions in the world, it is easy for couples to get into ruts. Taking time out of a life that has become very routine-based to do something that is both physical and good for you can breathe new life into your relationship.
- A path to doing more as a couple. Having fun exercising together provides impetus to try other new things together. Rachel and Mike go running together but are now considering booking a holiday swimming between the Greek islands next summer. “We also tore up the dancefloor at a recent 50th birthday party!” says Mike.
Best exercises for couples
Although running is often considered a solitary exercise, it’s what works best for Rachel and Mike. “We live opposite a park and we were both cross-country runners in our university years,” Mike explains.
Any type of exercise can be done by two people but working out in a gym would be more difficult to do together than going for a run in the park.
In fact, any outdoor exercise works well for a couple. Cycling, jogging, walking and hiking are all exercises that get the heart rate up and provide an opportunity for a little conversation on the side.
When it comes to indoor activities, swimming and dancing are best for couples. “Swimming can be deeply relaxing while giving us a huge workout and toning the body beautifully,” says fitness instructor Ryan McGee.
Strictly Come Dancing has given ballroom and Latin American dancing a new lease of life and couples the world over have picked up on the health benefits, and romantic attraction, that goes with some moves on the dancefloor.
Whatever moves you and your significant other to get moving, it’s encouraging to note that a study conducted in 2000 found that couples who participated in physical activity together reported feeling happier and more in love with their partners.