With Valentine's Day just two days away, the three-course dinners are being booked, the roses and heart-shaped chocolates ordered, and romance is in full bloom.
Fancy meals and sparkling wine are good on the lips but not for the hips. There is another way to heat things up on February 14 and beyond.
Turn your thoughts away from the bedroom for a moment... although the health benefits from under-the-sheet activity are plentiful (more on that later) consider instead activities that involve clothing, mainly of the Lycra variety.
Here are some of the benefits:
Quality time: Being time-poor can lead to inactivity. If you schedule in exercise with your partner then you can save time by combining a date with a fitness session.
Sharing the love: In exploring different activities and exercise regimens, you might discover something you love doing together. Mixing up your usual routine helps to keep things exciting, and exercise produces endorphins that make you feel happier and reduce stress levels.
Encouragement: Motivating and supporting each other during an activity provides a great opportunity to exchange loving words. A bit of healthy rivalry never goes astray, but best leave the commando-style yelling to the boot camp instructors.
Confidence: All those post-exercise feel-good chemicals can leave you feeling a lot more comfortable with your partner. It also shows your loved one that you take pride in your appearance and care about your health.
Safety: The expression ''safety in numbers'' applies to exercise. That special person in your life should have your wellbeing as a priority, which makes them the perfect exercise buddy to keep an eye out for you.
Not convinced yet? How about trying some of these activities...
Cupid was armed with a bow and arrow, but if archery isn't your thing, why not pick up a racquet and have a hit of tennis? Chasing a ball around a court gets your heart rate up, and perfecting your serve will make you feel ace. If tennis is a bit daunting then try ping pong. It might not be as challenging a workout, but if the Olympics has given it the seal of approval then we do too.
TAKE A WALK
It doesn't have to be on the wild side, but a little outdoor walking adventure carries a lot of positives. NZ offers loads of tracks with amazing views. Most bushwalks have some awesome lookouts to share a "moment" and tracks offer varying degrees of difficulty so every level is catered for. Pack a picnic to enjoy some al fresco dining and for a chance to have a romantic chill-out while you refuel for the journey.
Turn your night out into a workout and hit a dance floor for some choreographed cardio. Whether it's salsa, samba or rumba it could be time to quickstep your way into a dance studio for the most innocent fun to be had stepping on someone else's toes. Dancing is great for posture awareness, flexibility and balance.
The social atmosphere can help build confidence, and being surrounded by people can help keep any lover's tiffs at bay. If a dance lesson is too daunting, then why not bust a move together at a bar, club or concert.
Remember that it may be about compromise if you have different ideas about exercise. Try finding activities for which you are both at a similar level, or ones that allow for varying abilities. Choosing activities out of your comfort zone can help build your trust in one another, and facing fears together is better than being on your own.
Finally (as promised), studies have shown that regular exercise can enhance both the quantity and quality of sex you have with your soulmate. The bonus is that sex burns calories, so you could find you end up getting double the workout you thought you would.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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