With valentines day now underway there is no doubt that this is the perfect time for me to mention what a great idea exercising with your partner can be…..for most of us….just to add in a caveat here if you know from experience that it is going to lead to arguing and temporary hatred of the ‘light of your life’ then probably don’t crack the couples workout idea out as your valentines day pièce de résistance.
Even for those of us who enjoy exercising with our other half the activity can be fraught with peril…..never overlook the heightened emotional state very hard or very long exercise can put you in……if you’re anything like me you will cry, over next to nothing, and then try somehow to blame the other person……so when you are after romance just try and avoid this particular move.
Back to the positive….there are many ways that exercise in general can have a positive impact on your relationship. Keeping in good shape gives you body confidence and when you feel good about yourself and are not wasting time worrying you also feel positive towards your partner, have more time to spare to be nice to them and are probably also more interested in physical relations as you love what you have to bring to the table….as does your partner…..and are keen to show it off. Physical fitness in itself is also a big benefit for that particular aspect of relationships. Regular exercise will leave you with more energy and thus more energy spare to put effort into your relationship, not to mention leave you in a better mood in general. Being happy and relaxed certainly never did a relationship any harm.
However, we can look deeper than these general benefits. Many a year ago, when facebook was still just a twinkle in its dad’s eye and many of us still printed out driving directions for unknown journeys I completed a degree. While I have not made endless direct use of that degree and certainly have not made big inroads into paying off the debt it caused me one of my favourite areas, and one of the few I actually remember in decent detail is very relevant to this topic. This degree of mine is in psychology, the science of mind and behavior and while many a person dropped out once they discovered it would not simply be 3 years on learning how to tell if someone fancies you/how to make someone fancy you the topic of romance was occasionally touched upon (amid many an hour of statistics, action potentials, myelin sheaths and the in depth workings of the eye)……and what was found is that being in a physically arousing situation can increase your feelings of arousal towards another person. Thus it follows that if you and your partner drag yourselves off for a vigorous workout outside the bedroom you will be that bit more inclined to take yourselves into the bedroom on your return (provided you like each other enough to look past the sweaty bodies and tomato red faces)
This phenomenon is known as misattribution of arousal. Put simply when our bodies experience internal arousal we look to the outside world for clues to help us determine why we feel so aroused. If we feel this arousal and spot a very irritating person standing on our toe or blocking the pavement to take a photo when we are in a rush etc we immediately understand that our arousal is anger. If, however, we look to our environment and are confronted with an attractive person in our near vicinity (hopefully something we would all consider our partner to be if they were indeed near us) we interpret the arousal as attraction to that person. Basically we are misinterpreting where our original arousal has come from…..which can be handy in the right circumstances…..
Although various studies have shown that it is possible to manipulate peoples perceived emotion by giving them physiological arousal coupled with a certain stimulus one of the key experiments in the area is that of Dutton and Aron (1974). They found that men who converse with an attractive woman while physiologically aroused are more likely to later ask her out than those who encounter her when not aroused. What this means for us is that if we go out and get physically active with our valentine (physiologically arouse ourselves) instead of simply lounging around scoffing heart shaped chocolates and sipping prosecco with bits of strawberry floating around in it, we might just succeed in heightening the feeling of attraction we have towards our partner more than aforementioned chocolates ever could…..and a beautiful valentines day will be had by all.