The single most important thing you can do for your health: physical exercise. How exercise and marriage or love relationships go together may not be clear to many people, but the literal effects are significant. Regular physical exercise can mean not only both you and your partner or spouse being in better moods, but living a long and healthy life together.
You may have heard that exercising significantly lowers your risk of developing or dying from:
- heart disease
- certain cancers
You may also be aware that exercise has the following benefits:
- improves mood
- builds bones
- strengthens muscles
- expands lung capacity
- reduces risk of falls and fractures
- helps keep weight in check
You may not have known the recent discoveries scientists have made that bring even more benefits to the power of exercise:
- boosts brainpower
- improves organization and planning
- reduces anxiety and depression symptoms
- enhances the immune system’s ability to detect and fend off certain cancers
Exercise most likely works so well in your body for so many areas because it is benefiting minor to moderate aspects of physiology rather than larger effects on a small number of processes involving cells and tissues.
What is your goal to exercise and make a difference for you and your partner or spouse?
You do not need to be a triatholete or run a marathon to reap the benefits of exercise. Your crucial task is to exercise in sustained bouts of moderate movement. This translates into at least 30 minutes of moderate activity, like brisk walking, five or more times per week (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, like jogging), plus 30 minutes of muscle-strengthening activity at least two days a week.
Exercising aerobically significantly boosts the amount of oxygen needed by your muscles that your lungs must work harder to supply. Other forms of exercise, like lifting weights or balancing exercises, are also helpful. When you first start exercising, your body burns mostly glucose molecules. As you continue, it burns triglyceride, a kind of fat. By-products such as lactic acid and carbon dioxide seep from your muscles into the bloodstream, and the removal of these wastes prompts further reactions in your brain, lungs, and heart that become more efficient and less tiring over time. All this means that your body is doing a great thing by getting rid of waste and improving your efficiency.
When do the benefits of exercise really kick-in?
The answer is: once your physical activity becomes a habit. Your stamina increases as you become more fit. With practice, your longs process more oxygen as you breath deeper and your heart pumps more blood with each beat. Your body adjusts over a few weeks as you meet physical activity demands that lead to improved long-term health and well-being.
What do you do for exercise in your marriage or love relationship?
In a marriage or love relationship, regular exercise can be enjoyed as a couple or relationship activity. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you plan on physical activities together on weekends?
- At least one night during the week, are you able to enjoy a physical exercise together with your spouse or partner?
- Do you know the favorite physical activities of your partner or spouse, and have you planned some of those activities together?
- What are your favorites physical activities, and have you told your partner or spouse what you’d like to do together?
Did you know this about exercise?
Although you may have thought that exercise made you feel better for quite some time, it wasn’t until 2008 that scientists were able to identify what occurs in the brain that leads to feeling better emotionally with regular exercise. The brain releases more endorphins that evoke pleasurable feelings. These endorphines are also active in many regions of the brain responsible for strong emotions (much more than just in the bloodstream, which wouldn’t affect mood). In 2011 scientists discovered that regular exercise increases the size of the hippocampus, allowing you to remember familiar surroundings better and create new cells, what we call neurogenisis.
For your physical health, exercise does lower your blood pressure and the amount of "bad" LDL cholesterol while raising the "good" HDL cholesterol. Weight training in particular is great at raising HDL cholesterol over several months of practice. Specifically, exercise changes the properties of LDL more than lowering the amount in the blood. Exercise increases the number of larger, safer LDL molecules and decreases the number of small, dangerous ones. A couch potato most likely has many small LDL molecules, even if he or she has the same numbers for LDL compared to a regular exerciser. What this means is that the smaller LDL molecules are much more dangerous, and pose a significantly higher risk to the non-exerciser.
Let's be clear: exercise is not easy, but it's not an option for health & mood
Only one in five Americans meets the recommendations for aerobic and resistance exercising. To help lower the bar, keep in mind that even shorter dosages of exercising can help: 11 minutes per day of leisurely activities like gardening or taking your dog for a walk can increase life expectancy by 1.8 years. Moderate exercising may increase life expectancy by 3.4 years. If you can reach the recommended exercise guidelines, you may increase your life expectancy by 4.2 years. Keep in mind that an increased life expectancy with improved health and mood also most likely means a significant increase in the quality of your life, so you and your partner or spouse can enjoy many more years in your marriage or love relationship to travel the world or enjoy that walk down the beach at sunset without having to be carried by the other.
Your task in your marriage or love relationship in NYC
Regular physical activity needs to be built into your daily habits and physical environments, as easy as it is to jump onto the subway now. Make it a regular part of your own daily routine, a weekly routine within your relationship, and a necessity over the weekends in your marriage or love relationship.
Share your experiences from your marriage or love relationship
What are your favorite physical activities? Do you enjoy the same exercises as your spouse or partner? Are there exercises you're not willing to participate in that your partner or spouse loves? If so, how do you compromise and still feel close and connected? Is physical activity or exercise sometimes a challenge or source of conflict in your love relationship or marriage? Share your experiences and help other couples and relationships.
Source: information in this blog from an excellent article in this month's Scientific American titled “The Wonders of Exercise” pp. 76-79, August 2013. Check out the full issue to read more about exercise and the body.