Exercise with your valentine
John M. Berardi, PhD, and Amanda Graydon
Partner or group exercises are good for the mind and the body. In fact, the benefits of social support is one of the most important factors in fitness success.
Exercise with a partner is good for both the mind and the body. Recent research from the University of Wyoming has demonstrated that social support is one of the most important factors in fitness success—as measured by a combination of enjoyment, results, and adherence.
According to Dr. Gary Homann, the author of the study, social support comes from getting involved in an exercise community—the people, contests, and events tied to exercise activities. In essence, when you surround yourself with people who support your lifestyle to the point of jumping in there with you, you end up healthier, leaner, and happier—and more likely to stay in shape for the long haul.
Help from your friends
What better person to start with than with your valentine? By enlisting the support and companionship of your significant other, you’ll likely enjoy your fitness program a heck of a lot more, get better results, and be able to find more ways to spend time together—celebrating Valentine’s Day all year long.
But you don’t have to stop there. You and your valentine can multiply the community support—and the fun—by finding a group of fitness friends to take to the gym or the park with you. Indeed, when it comes to fitness, a group atmosphere really seems to bring the best out of people, especially when it’s a mixed crowd of men and women.
So call up a few friends, ask your valentine to call a few more, and soon you’ll have a good-sized fitness group.
Ramp it up
Now, what should you all do together? Although most beginners naturally gravitate toward low-intensity cardiovascular activities such as walking, hiking, and bike riding, the best fitness benefits come from a mixture of higher-intensity strength exercise and interval exercise, says Ryan Andrews, director of education for Precision Nutrition, Inc.
“Even when we’re talking about heart health,” Andrews says, “the best prescription is higher-intensity exercise. And that’s not to mention the other benefits, including a faster metabolism, better bone health, more lean mass, and less body fat.”
All the research points to the same conclusion: resistance and interval exercises help us keep a youthful metabolism and a young physique.
Don’t think you have to get a gym membership to perform higher-intensity interval exercise. A gym membership will help, but it’s no problem if you don’t have access to a gym. The exercise group that you and your valentine put together can create a few circuits to perform in your backyard, at your local park, or in a local gymnasium. Try the high-intensity intervals shown in “Heartthrob circuit” (see below).
You can also take your group sprinting at a local track, canoeing at a nearby lake, or cross-country skiing at a park. Just remember that if you want the fitness benefits, mix in a little high-intensity activity by doing interval-style exercise.
If you want to do this type of exercise, why not try skiing? Ski fast for several minutes for a bit of high-intensity activity, then slow it down or ski downhill for several minutes to work in the low-intensity activity. Repeat these intervals throughout your day on the slopes.
Play activities count, too. Cross-train with a tennis match, a game of ultimate Frisbee, or a mountain bike outing. Just remember, the best fitness programs deliver a mixture of activities at a variety of intensities. Good fitness programs are those that you’ll stick to consistently.
When you surround yourself with fitness friends, especially your valentine, workouts become much more fun. So find that special someone and invite him or her along on your next fitness adventure.
Feel the burn
When it comes to burning calories everyone burns them at a slightly different rate. It all depends on your particular physical makeup, specifically how much you weigh. When two people perform the same activity with the same exertion, the heavier person will burn more calories.
Here’s a look at the number of calories burnt per 30 minutes of activity if you weigh 63 kg (140 lbs)—you’ll burn slightly more or less depending on your actual body weight.
All you need is a little space, a skipping rope, a stopwatch, and a medicine ball. If you’re a beginner, here’s how you might do it. Begin by jumping rope for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds. Now do push-ups for 30 seconds and rest again for 30 seconds. Continue with 30-second increments of jumping jacks and medicine ball tosses, each followed by 30-second rest periods. Repeat three times.