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10 Ways Exercise Improves Your Relationship

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    You'll Reduce Stress

    By now you know that squeezing in some time to sweat is great for your mental clarity. And there's no better way to increase productivity at work than with a healthy workout. Those benefits carry over to your relationship, too. "Exercise is, hands down, one of the best stress-relievers in the world," says Heidi Powell, personal trainer, fitness coach, and cohost of Extreme Weight Loss. (The second cohost? Her other half in both life and work, hubby Chris Powell). "When we don't exercise, Chris and I are at each other's throats about everything."

    The Mayo Clinic explains why: Any form of physical activity—going for a run, lifting weights, yoga—provides a rush of endorphins (your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters), which put you in a better mood. This makes you more likely to stay chill—and potentially avoid a fight—when your guy pushes your buttons (you know, like when he leaves his socks on the floor again).

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    You'll Increase Your Sex Drive

    Research shows that exercise increases blood flow throughout your entire body—and that includes your nether regions, making you more responsive to stimulation. In fact, a Brooks running survey revealed that 68 percent of women believe that pounding pavement with their man increased their mileage between the sheets.

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    You'll Feel Confident

    Exercise boosts your self-confidence, according to a Journal of Health Psychology study. And let's face it, self-esteem matters when it's time to take your clothes off. "We want to have sex more often if we feel good about how we look," says Powell. "I want Chris to look at me and want to be with me. And he wants to know that when he takes his shirt off, I love what I see." Don't worry, we're not saying you need to do crunches and run marathons until you have a six-pack—that same study found that any amount of exercise helps.

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    You'll Be More Thoughtful

    Even a brief burst of cardio can improve your memory, says a study in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. Plus, exercise boosts the brain's level of dopamine (a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure center). Meaning that not only will you remember that all-important date, but you're more likely to feel warm fuzzies when you acknowledge it with a sweet card. Here's to never forgetting another anniversary.

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    You'll Boost Your Bond

    While there are benefits to cranking out a hearty sweat session on your own, there's truth behind the mantra, "The couple that plays together, stays together," says Powell. "Whether you're hiking a mountain, playing a soccer game, or hitting the weights in the gym, you're preparing yourself physiologically and emotionally for all of the challenges to come," she says. "Relationships aren't all hugs and high fives. There are tough times, and if you have a history of making it through challenges as a couple, you're more likely to be able to make it through the rough challenges later in life." Not to mention, when you feel like you're dying on burpee number 23, it feels better to look over and see he's working hard to make it through, too.

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    You'll Have More Energy

    According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise helps drive your energy levels through the roof because moving delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. When that's cranking, your engine will be revved and ready for action—meaning you're more likely to say yes to that after-dinner walk, or playtime in the backyard with the kids.

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    You'll Support Each Other

    As the saying goes, "happy wife, happy life." Your man's ticket to mastering this mantra lies in your fitness routine. Why? Because dopamine, those lovely neurotransmitters that are linked to your brain's pleasure center, light up when you exercise. Add that to a rush of endorphins and you're one happy camper after a successful sweat session. And when you're happy, you're more likely to make the effort to ensure your partner is, too. "You not only want to be the best version of yourself, but you're also going to encourage your spouse to become the best person that he can be as well," says Powell. "And you'll have a sense of camaraderie if you do it together. It's nice to have Chris in the room doing cleans when I'm working on handstand push-ups. We can encourage each other; I can motivate him to accomplish something great, and he can do the same for me."

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    You'll Sleep Better

    A lousy night of sleep doesn't bode well for your relationship. Not only will you have low energy, but you're more likely to be cranky, irritable, and impatient. Exercise (surprise!) can help. Research shows that the national guideline of 150 minutes of vigorous activity a week improves sleep quality by 65 percent, and the National Sleep Foundation reports that those who logged regular exercise felt less sleepy during the day.

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    You'll Make Better Decisions

    Your brain needs oxygen to be at the top of its game, and exercise helps make that happen. A recent study in Psychophysiology found that women who sweat have more oxygen flowing through the anterior frontal region of the brain, which is responsible for making decisions—like whether you both want to consider starting a family—and memory retention.

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    You'll Live Longer

    Research shows that those who regularly work out tend to have a longer life span because they're reducing their risk for a myriad of health issues. That means more time to live out those grow-old-together dreams. Go ahead, renew your vows.

 

Samantha Lefave

Samantha is the associate web editor who is living, eating and sweating her way through NYC. You can find her running half-marathons like it's her job, Instagramming her favorite food and fitness finds or, let's be honest, eating peanut butter straight from the jar.  More →
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