Save the relationship with sports? Experts explain how it works

Hamburg / Cologne.Run instead of sequence, Pilates instead of game night: It doesn’t always have to be the typical couple events. Sports can also mean quality time for two people in a relationship. But couples have to follow some rules so that playing sports together does not become fatal to the relationship. Experts give advice on what’s important when working out with a partner.

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1. Don’t hesitate

Basically, exercising together is good for relationships, explains author and couples counselor Eric Heijman. Stress and frustration hormones are reduced, you spend time together, and sexual desire is stimulated. “So the rule of thumb is: Do it!” Especially when one pair is competing against another, you get the feeling of being a team.

Hegmann advises every couple to have regular data nights anyway. “A sports afternoon together a week is definitely great too.” Because, says Professor Jens Kleinert, Head of the Department of Health and Social Psychology at the Psychological Institute of the German Sports University in Cologne: “During sports, you experience your partner in a role that you would not otherwise know. This is good for the relationship.”

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2. Setting goals

In the beginning, it’s like it often is – you have to talk, talk and keep talking. “You have to think together: What do we want to achieve?” says Kleinert. “There should be agreement on the purpose of sport and exercise for both.” Do you want to spend more time together or is it mainly about getting fitter?

3. Clarify the terms of the framework

In the Corona crisis, only jogging, cycling and walking remain in addition to fitness exercises at home. But if there are other options available, consider going to the gym together, joining a gym, or taking a class like yoga. And last but not least: do you want to do everything for two or maybe a couple of friends?

It is important that joint sports are carefully planned. Couples should schedule frequent fixed dates where they want to train together, Kleinert recommends. It is also important to consider how intense the exercise is: how many times a week? And how long should the training last? “One should plan it in such a way that it fits well with everyday life.”

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4. Appropriate sport

It doesn’t really matter if you’re starting something new together or taking up a hobby together in the future. Then it is only important that the newcomer accept his role as a novice compared to an experienced partner. As far as the sport is concerned, Hegmann considers running to be particularly appropriate. “You’re outside, you can talk and get into the flow of the sport,” he says.

But it’s also possible to play golf, tennis, kite surfing or windsurfing, according to the expert. You can also get fitness exercises that are shown to you by a personal trainer. This is a good opportunity, especially for novice couples, to gather ideas for a joint sports program.

5. Be considerate

Basically, differences in performance are not an issue when training together. It’s important that no one gets bored – but no one gets bored either. “If you’re a little creative, you’ll find a solution,” Kleinert says.

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One possibility is divergent tasks: one partner completes a fitness exercise with increasing difficulty, while the other does the same exercise only in the simple version. Or they jog together for the first 20 minutes and then part ways. In principle, of course, the strongest should consider the weakest, advises Hegemann. “You shouldn’t overwhelm your partner, it’s frustrating and then not fun anymore.”

6. Stay on the ball

At some point everyone grabbed, the inner bastard. Kleinert recommends making clear agreements. First of all, this means that you have to stick to deadlines. One way to achieve this is with some kind of contract: “It could simply be an appointment written on the pin board, under which you visually show that you are behind it,” Kleinert explains. This creates commitment and reduces the potential for conflict.

You should also discuss beforehand how you want to motivate each other in such a situation. Can you kick someone else’s butt? Or better to ask kindly? “You know each other and you know what to expect and the best way to deal with it,” Kleinert says.

And if it doesn’t work? Not necessarily a broken leg. “If exercising together is the one thing you can’t do — well,” Hegemann says. But: If you don’t find any other focal points and you don’t try to find any, that’s a bad sign, according to Hegman. “If you can’t get yourself to walk together and have little in common other than that, the question arises: What do people want with each other?”

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RND / dpa

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