Make active time, bonding time
Humans crave connection. The real, face-to-face, in-person kind. Be it a romantic partner, family or friend, research shows that humans require social interaction for optimal health and quality of life.1 To put it simply, bonding with others makes us feel happy. One way to build these bonds is through physical activity, and as luck would have it, if you get active with others, you experience even greater benefits!2
How does physical activity help with making and strengthening connections?
By getting active with others, you’ll make new friends, join a new community and learn new things. Whether it’s aquafit, a running group or an organized sport like basketball, physical activity that brings you together with others is key! You may soon find that the friends you make on the court become friends off the court, too.
In the market for a partner? Then we suggest getting sweaty: exercise induces physiological arousal symptoms like a racing pulse and sweaty hands, and can mimic romantic attraction.3
If you already have someone in your life, then you’re in luck! When partners care about fitness – their own and their partner’s – achieving fitness goals becomes a lot easier. And “outsourcing” the mental effort required to complete fitness goals can reduce your own effort.4
Doing physical activity with a partner can increase your happiness with the relationship. Research shows that couples felt more satisfied in their relationship and more in love with their partner after being active together.5 When you take part in movement in sync with one another, such as dancing, running or walking, you also increase your emotional bond.
To maximize the benefits of getting active with a partner, or to attract a new one, try the following on your way to getting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week:
- Don’t have a significant other right now? Take the unconditional love of your pet out for a walk – you never know who you’ll meet!
- Join a social league and play some volleyball or pickleball.
- Group activities like dragon boating are fun, social and great workouts!
- A fitness class is a nice way to meet people with common interests.
- Join a folk/cultural dancing group to connect with people of similar backgrounds.
- Try a round of mini-putt with your family, a yoga class or a morning jog.
If you have a partner, then:
- Consider active dates like tennis, skating or scenic hikes.
- Set shared fitness goals; they’re easier to achieve as a twosome because you keep each other motivated to move.
- Instead of the usual date-night, get competitive with a partner and play a head-to-head game such as ladder toss or 5-pin bowling, or find a seasonal activity such as skiing.
- Check out the free ParticipACTION app to track your progress and for ongoing motivation, articles and exercise videos.
- HADFIELD, J. (2012). PRESCRIPTION FOR LIVING LONGER: SPEND LESS TIME ALONE.. BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY. RETRIEVED FROM: https://news.byu.edu/news/prescription-living-longer-spend-less-time-alone
- DAVIS ET AL. (2016). SOCIAL BONDS AND EXERCISE: EVIDENCE FOR A RECIPROCAL RELATIONSHIP. PLOS ONE, 10(8): E0136705.
- STEL & VONK. (2010). MIMICRY IN SOCIAL INTERACTION: BENEFITS FOR MIMICKERS, MIMICKEES, AND THEIR INTERACTION. BRITISH JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY, 101(PT 2),311-323.
- BRISKIN ET AL., (2017). FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE? OUTSOURCING SELF-REGULATION AND GOAL PURSUIT. SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY AND PERSONALITY SCIENCE. DOI: 10.1177/1948550617736112
- ARON ET AL. (2000). COUPLES’ SHARED PARTICIPATION IN NOVEL AND AROUSING ACTIVITIES AND EXPERIENCED RELATIONSHIP QUALITY. JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, 8(2),273-84.