Exercise gives relationships a workout

There are a lot of great reasons to exercise with your significant other.

You get to spend time together getting healthy and even having fun. You can inspire/nag each other. You're sweating with a person who already knows what you look like when you are less than camera-ready and hasn't been scared off yet.

Plus, there is plenty of evidence that many happy couples perhaps should be doing more together than Saturday-night dinner and a movie and Sunday morning in bed.

Just two examples: Last year came the news out of Ohio State University that particularly if you're over 30, many men and women gain a significant amount of weight after marriage. Women tend to put on a little more -- maybe it's not having to squeeze into that white dress again? But watch out, guys -- after divorce, you're the ones who tend to bulk up.

And a 2010 study out of the famous Cooper Clinic in Dallas found that married people tend to be less physically fit than those who stay single.

Making different fitness styles fit together is not easy. Just because the two of you have agreed to share your lives doesn't mean you want to share your workouts.

It's one thing to find a person with whom you agree on matters of faith, finance, child-rearing, sexual frequency and who takes out the garbage.

It's another entirely to remain in sync on matters of track vs. pool, Zumba vs. Pilates, golf vs. tennis, gym vs. couch.

For a time, I persuaded my husband to come to the gym with me. For a time, he persuaded me to come golfing with him.

Neither of these campaigns lasted long, possibly because he enjoys the gym about as much as I enjoy golf. These days, we content ourselves with occasional bike rides together, though we still have to negotiate over which route we'll take.

I was thinking about all this the other week while training with my girlfriends for a half marathon. We're race-walkers, not runners, so we have hours to talk. On this day, the subject turned to our garages and all the evidence they hold of past efforts at husband-wife fitness campaigns.

Bikes, kayaks, inline skates, clubs, rackets, bats -- every item could tell a story of good intentions that didn't quite work out as planned.

We laughed about the seeming futility of it all. And then, as optimistic women tend to do, we pondered whether all four of us might corral our husbands to go bike riding with us.

If you're able to work out with your partner, good for you. But if not, maybe all you really need is to work together, supporting each other in whatever works best for each of you.

(Charlotte Sutton can be reached at sutton(at)tampabay.com.)

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com)

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