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Just in time for Valentine’s Day, yet another incentive to exercise on a regular basis: working out could make your relationship less tumultuous.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology asked participants to answer a survey about the level of conflict in their relationships and then strap on activity trackers for a week. At the end of the seven days, their cohabiting partners answered a follow-up survey.
Results indicated that those who walked more than 10,000 steps and burned over 500 calories through exercise were less likely to bring work grievances home and bicker with their other halves, especially when the physical activity was paired with adequate sleep.
“The findings are particularly compelling given recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the American Heart Association to walk between 8,000 and 10,000 steps per day,” said Professor Shannon Taylor, University of Central Florida. “I also think the study gives us a new perspective on the importance of getting an adequate amount of sleep and exercise. It’s not just good for you, it’s good for your spouse, too.”
This is likely thanks to the stress-reducing qualities of exercise, which lowers adrenaline and cortisol and boosts the body’s natural mood elevators, endorphins.
What’s more, couples who sweat together and much more likely to keep up the habit. A 2015 study tracked 3,700 married or cohabiting couples and found that 70% of participants who were active on a regular basis enjoyed working out with their romantic partner. Only 26% of the men and 24% of the women incorporated regular exercise into their lives when going it alone.