This article is part of a series in collaboration with ParticipACTION. Discover how "Everything gets better when you get active!"
Time flies when you’re having fun, and nothing makes a walk, jog or wheel fly by like doing it in good company. Moving your body regularly is beneficial in every way - it can improve your sleep, support your immune system, and help you stave off symptoms of anxiety and depression. Given physical activity’s vast physical, emotional, and psychological benefits, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it can enhance your personal relationships, too.
The buddy system boost
Research suggests that we’re more likely to exercise consistently when we do it with a friend, group or spouse. In fact, one U.K. study reported that people exercise more frequently when they have a workout buddy. That’s mostly because of the emotional and social support that comes with doing something with another person. This applies to significant others, too - a U.S. study of married couples who went to the gym found that those couples that worked out together were significantly more likely to continue being physically active than those that worked out separately.
Physical activity is also a strong social bonding agent, and it can even improve our romantic connections. Evidence shows that after engaging in a joint physical activity, romantic partners report greater satisfaction with their relationship. Other research indicates that people enjoy physical activity more when they do it in the presence of a romantic partner.
Work out to make out
When we get our heart rate up, we also actively promote the production of feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. That surge in happy-making chemicals not only puts us in a good mood, but it may also put us in the mood: people who engage in regular physical activity report greater sexual desire, arousal and satisfaction. For men, regular physical activity may even protect against erectile dysfunction.
Don’t forget the kids
Evidence suggests that active parents significantly influence kids’ activity levels, and there is no better way to encourage kids to get active than to role model an active lifestyle. Evidence suggests that every 20 minutes a parent spends engaged in physical activity translates to five to 10 minutes of physical activity for their children. Getting active with kids also provides an opportunity to talk, connect and have fun outside the confines of the usual routine.
How to bring friends, family and loved ones into the physical activity mix
• Sign up for a recreational sporting league.
• Establish a weekly family walk, hike, or cycle.
• Choose to have an active date night. Take a dance class, cycle around the lakeshore or river or try a new activity together like yoga or tai chi.
· Make a weekly physical activity date with a pal. Set a goal together and keep one another accountable.
· Turn off devices and turn up the music! A family dance party can be a quick and fun way to boost heart rates and energy levels.
· A game of ping pong is a great way to get kids up and moving.
· Frisbee, soccer, basketball, tennis – there are so many ways to make physical activity a partner- or group-based event.
· Plan to explore new trails, botanical gardens and conservation areas with a partner or pal.
· Do a scavenger hunt or obstacle course.
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