The benefits of couples working out together

Sometimes if one person in the relationship isn't in shape, it can cause problems

When it comes to working out, some people have it down to a science.

In other words, they don't have to coax themselves into going to the gym and they're pretty consistent at eating healthily and exercising. Then there are those who would love to incorporate a daily fitness plan, but haven't come up with the desire or the time to do so.

So how can they change that?

The couple that sweats together...

Plenty of experts say working out with your partner is a great way to stay motivated and it helps in other ways too.

Dr. Wendy Whelihan, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Edina, Minn., told a local news outlet that when couples work out together it gives them an entirely new way of connecting.

"It is a way of physically sharing an experience with each other, an often refreshing and much needed alternative to more verbal means of connecting, allowing couples to just be with each other," she said.

From a fitness standpoint, personal trainer Steve Zahn says working out as a couple can give each person in the relationship the mental push he or she might need.

"When couples work out together, it's a symbiotic relationship," he said. "When one struggles, so does the other. They are entirely dependent on each other for success."

Helen Ryan, a personal trainer from California found this to be true when she began working out, but her husband didn't.

"We were together for 21 years," she said in an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News. "As I started to develop an interest in fitness, he did some things now and then, but he wasn't interested in anything physical.

"That actually posed part of the problem because I was interested in exercising and he wasn't. I think we really missed the boat on things we could have done together," she added.

And experts say when one person in the relationship is in shape and the other person isn't, it can cause a tremendous amount of strain on the relationship.

Al's experience

"Today" show weather forecaster Al Roker told the television audience about how his lack of motivation to exercise caused tension between him and his wife.

Roker's wife is TV journalist Deborah Roberts, who Roker says works out all the time.

"My wife is a size four; she runs, she works out and it became a problem in our marriage," he said. "On a Saturday she'd get up, get dressed to run and I'd be sitting on the couch or making breakfast for the kids and was quite happy about our choices. She, on the other hand, was not. Unless you communicate that, it's going to be a problem."

In a poll conducted by "Today," 55% of people said the differences in weight between them and their partner caused problems in their relationship. 

Trouble ahead

Sydney Johnston, founder of -- a health and wellness site -- says unintentional weight gain can lead to all sorts of problems in a marriage, even divorce.

"I call this 'lack of physical appearance maintenance syndrome,' "she wrote. "Lack of physical appearance maintenance syndrome can lead (and does lead) to divorce. When a man you married a few years ago, because of his intelligence and sex appeal, starts putting on unintentional weight, he can lose his sex appeal. The same goes for a woman.

"Unintentional weight gain can lead to adultery, or other kinds of abuses (such as verbal abuses). In addition, when you gain weight, you can lose your self-confidence, leading to a flurry of personal issues," Johnonon warned

What to do

So what are some good ways for couples to exercise? 

There are many, but dancing is a good one. Experts say many people associate dancing with having a good time, not working out, so you can sort of trick yourself into getting some physical fitness in. Because going to the gym clearly isn't for everybody

"Those working out in gyms are often plugged into their iPods or their reading material following their own regiment," said Polly de Mille, an exercise physiologist at the Women's Sports Medicine Center at Hospital for Special Surgery.

"The social aspects of dance help make it very attractive for an increasing number of people versus say, an elliptical machine," she said. "Scientific studies are now also telling us that many things make dancing and excellent fitness regimen with attractive benefits."

And if dancing isn't your thing, and you prefer going to the gym, picking workout routines that allow you and your mate to exercise at different paces is recommended.

Using the treadmill, signing up for an indoor cycling class or using any other piece of equipment that allows you to work out individually, but  still side by side is a good choice, experts say.

Hiking is another great thing couples can do. Again, it allows each person to work out at his own pace and both of you can get a good amount of cardio in at the same time.

Do it at home

If you rather work out at home, you can use video games like the Wii Fit.

Working out at home can make it easier to schedule exercise sessions. And for some people, it's easier to maintain motivation to exercise if they don't have to leave the house.

Stretching exercises and yoga are good things for couples to do together as well. It can prepare both of you for a good workout and give you the mental push both of you might need.

And when choosing your meals, choose them together if you can. If one person is eating a double cheesburger, while the other person is having a salad, it could be difficult for the person who's trying to stay on track.

In addition, experts say to remain patient with each other, because everyone exercises at a different pace. It's important to stay positive too, because you don't want your workout to create any arguments or tension in the relationship.

That would defeat the whole purpose of exercising together.

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