It may seem ironic, but skipping out on regular physical activity may actually make you more tired in the long run (no pun intended). Numerous health institutions, such as the Public Health Agency of Canada, note that not doing enough physical activity lessens the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain and significantly lowers your heart rate, leaving you feeling worn out.

A similar concept applies to your marriage. If you don’t pour energy and effort into your relationship − setting aside specific times to exercise your various lines of communication and emotion – your marriage can start to become fatigued and tired.

Exercise isn’t the answer to every marriage issue, but it will help you to bond on a new level and establish invaluable disciplines, such as perseverance and goal-setting, that can help combat marital fatigue. So get proactive and give your marriage a tune-up today!

Benefits of an active lifestyle

  1. Shared experiences: Whether you’re climbing a mountain, biking to your favourite coffee shop, jogging through a park or following an exercise DVD, each endeavour is a memory shared between the two of you. In a study published by the Australian government’s Institute of Family Studies, researchers noted that the longest-married couples held up their shared experiences and memories as a chief factor in their relationships.
  2. Goal creations: As you and your spouse work out, you’ll learn to set goals and work together to achieve them in a spirit of cooperation. After completing something more challenging – such as an all-day hike – you’ll look to the future with greater confidence in yourself, your spouse and your relationship.
  3. Better moods: "If you are physically active," says international speaker and marriage author Bill Farrel, "your body produces more endorphins and, as a result, you will just feel happier." For couples, Farrel recommends a minimum of one joint physical activity per week.
  4. Mutual affirmation: Throughout your workouts, you’ll find yourselves encouraging each other to meet your individual fitness challenges. This translates positively into all other areas of your relationship. "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up" (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Proclaim your commitment

The first week of exercising will likely feel exciting and invigorating. But, like many new endeavours, novelty fades and interest wanes. Completing a set of exercises may feel entirely unattainable, and it’s highly likely that one – or both – of you will want to give up. This is when you’ll need to dig deep to stay motivated and reach your goal.

Think back to your marriage vows as an example of commitment and motivation. Those promises can help you encourage your spouse to sustain through the pain. Remember that you’re in control of the outcome – in your exercise and in your marriage – no matter the challenges you face as a couple. "Issues and events do not make you happy or unhappy," relationship experts Michael and Amy Smalley, authors of The Surprising Way to a Stronger Marriage, say. "Your response and attitude determine your satisfaction in life."

Get started today

  1. Explore the outdoors: Your immediate surroundings probably have a lot to offer. Try jogging through a nearby park or exploring forest trails. Do you own bikes? If you do, strap on your helmets and pedal over to a favourite coffee shop or bakery; choosing such a destination sets a specific goal with a reward waiting for you and your spouse. Plus, outdoor exercise allows for a good dose of fresh air and helps lower stress levels, says Sarah Mahoney, a contributing editor at Prevention magazine.
  2. Put your TV to good use: Don’t let crummy weather get you down. You can easily exercise in the comfort of your own home with two dumbbells and an exercise DVD. Video retailers typically stock fitness DVDs in genres like strength, cardio and dance. Choose the style that best suits your interests – and have some fun with it!
  3. Integrate your physical and spiritual lives: Take an after-dinner "prayer walk" with your spouse to ask God for guidance and give thanks for His provisions. According to a study done by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, spending 30 minutes a day with any type of cardio exercise will boost your health and your energy. Adding prayer as an additional spiritual workout will further draw you and your spouse closer together on a deeper level. Scripture calls the body a "temple of the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:19), so consider using your exercises as a way of thanking God for creating you.

Reference to the individuals and organizations quoted does not constitute a blanket endorsement of either the individuals’ external work or their respective organizations.

Todd Foley is on staff with Focus on the Family Canada.

© 2011 Focus on the Family (Canada) Association. All rights reserved.

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