What’s the secret to a long, happy marriage?
For Karl and Susan, who just celebrated 61 years together, it’s a combination of things.
Like being kind and thoughtful with each other, while maintaining common interests and enjoying walks on the beach…
And keeping the romance alive, with sweet gestures every day, like the way he brings her tea in bed every morning…
And … EXERCISE!
That’s right. The pair, now in their 80s, have been working out together three times a week for 35 years. They started decades ago when he was a college professor, and they kept it up at home, gyms, in different states, and now in retirement.
“I think it’s one of the wonderful things we do together,” Karl says. “It’s very nice to have this joint hobby.”
Karl and Susan are just one of countless couples over 50 who enjoy regular exercise together.
We love welcoming pairs over 50 because we see how they’re not only improving their health, but also strengthening their relationship and setting a positive example.
Psychology Today shared findings about the benefits of exercising with a romantic partner. It is “associated with greater positive mood during exercise —beyond the happiness boost that results from the exercise itself — and it correlated with higher positive mood (but not reduced negative mood) during the day. Lastly, it was related to greater relationship satisfaction.”
The research – and Karl and Susan – prove:
- Exercise makes us feel good, so doing it together can have powerful effects on the relationship.
- It also demonstrates support and encouragement for your partner.
- Many of us work harder when we’re with someone – and who can get us revved up more than our No. 1 person?
- Research also finds that having shared interests is good for a relationship. It gives you something positive to do together, to talk about together.
- It’s also a way to spend quality time together – whether that’s at the gym or walking the dog, ballroom dancing, or gardening in the back yard.
- And the ways our bodies react to exercise – faster heart rate, shortness of breath, sweaty palms – are similar to the feelings of romantic attraction. So, working up a sweat together can be great for your physical connection.
Karl and Susan enjoy their friendship with their trainer, who guides them through resistance and balance work. And they value the social connections they’ve found at the gym.
They keep the romance alive by saying “I love you” several times a day, holding hands, and encouraging each other, at home and at the gym.
“We’re both upbeat people, and we cheer each other on,” she says. “Bad things have happened, but you pick up your suitcases and keep going. All along, we’ve been a team.”
Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.