It’s Saturday morning and you’re itching to go for a bike ride. You ask your partner if they want to join, but they’re camped out on the couch. The first few times they decline your offer, you understand because they had a busy week and want to relax. But after months of pressing them to join you, you feel fed up—you want to be active together.
“I think one of the most important things in a relationship is having similar interests so that you can do things together,” says Aaptiv trainer Rochelle Moncourtois. “It doesn’t mean you have to do everything together, but working out and eating [well] is a very important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, so if one of you is on the healthy spectrum and the other one isn’t, it can definitely cause some friction.”
How to Encourage Your S.O. to Work Out
When you’re exercising regularly, you’ll likely see benefits to your mental and physical health. Working out boosts mood, improves cognitive function, and bolsters sleep. But how do you encourage your partner to exercise and reap the same rewards?
The conversation can be hard, Moncourtois says, and that’s why your approach to the topic is important. “You really have to address it very carefully so that you don’t hurt your significant other’s feelings.” She continues, “Simply asking if [your partner] wants to go on a short, easy run is a great way to start off. You can say, ‘We can even go slow so that we can talk to each other,’ because [exercise] can also be bonding time for you two.”
Moncourtois advises starting off small so your S.O. is not intimidated or discouraged right off the bat. Beginning a fitness routine can be hard. It’s important to show compassion. Something like a brisk walk on a nice day or a leisurely hike are more accessible options than a 90-minute spin class—especially for someone who hasn’t been working out as often.
You can also tell your partner the reasons why you want to work out with them. For example, you want to spend time together or try a new activity that both of you can master. Making exercise a team sport with goals that both of you are working toward is encouraging. Plus, it helps keep you each accountable, Moncourtois says.
Exercise gives you time to bond with each other in a healthy way and allows you to work together as a team.
“Exercise definitely improves a relationship mentally, physically, and emotionally. It really does give you the time to bond with each other in a healthy way,” Moncourtois adds. “Exercise also [benefits] both of you because you’re working together as a team, and I think that’s a really healthy thing to have in a relationship.”
If you need further proof that sweating together is sexy, there’s also research showing that being physically active can have positive effects on your sex life. These benefits range from enhancing your sexual performance to reducing stress (a libido killer) to making you feel sexier. Now that may get your partner moving.
Lead by Example
If you’ve already tried to invite your partner to work out with you but didn’t have any luck, it may be helpful to show them how exercise has benefited you. If they notice you’re feeling great after a spin class or looking more toned after months of kickboxing, they may be curious enough to start investing in fitness. Or, if they compliment you on your progress, that can be a good opportunity to ask if they’d like to join you next time.
Plus, coming home with an endorphin high is attractive and can make you a better partner in your relationship. Hopefully, your S.O. will notice your improved mood and want to match it. “It’s easier for me to be more confident with my husband [when I work out], and I know that happens a lot in relationships,” Moncourtois says. “Exercise, in general, helps with your emotions.”
The conversation may make you feel anxious at first. But, Moncourtois says it’s absolutely OK to talk to your partner about their physical health if you’re concerned. The crucial thing, however, is your intention. “You have to be coming from a caring place,” Moncourtois notes. “It’s definitely not OK to tell someone, ‘Hey, I noticed that you gained 20 pounds, so you should probably go back to the gym with me.’”
If you’ve observed a change in your partner’s well-being or think that exercise would benefit them, expressing how much you care about them and want to see them healthy is important. If they used to exercise regularly but recently stopped, you should check in to see if anything is bothering them. There could be an underlying issue behind their change in behavior that you don’t know about yet.
“You have to be very, very careful with the words you choose,” Moncourtois says. “I think writing them out or thinking about what you’re going to say first before you actually say it to the other person [is helpful].”
Lastly, you want to make sure your timing is right. Asking your S.O. why they aren’t exercising as you’re running off to work in the morning isn’t the best idea. Instead, pick a moment to talk when the two of you have the time for a meaningful conversation.
You can’t force your partner to go to the gym, even if you want to. While you may see the benefits of regular physical activity, your S.O. needs to go at their own pace.
What you can control, though, is how supportive and encouraging you are. By leading by example, inviting them along to workouts, and congratulating them for any progress, you are fostering their relationship with exercise. At the end of the day, this is the healthiest thing to do for yourself—and your partner.