So, you have found yourself in a bit of a pickle. Your beloved partner appears to have fused with the couch, and their idea of a marathon involves a television remote rather than running shoes. It’s lonely for you and potentially dangerous for your mate.
Regular physical activity is not just about keeping crumbs out of the couch cushions: it is a way to achieve and maintain quality physical health, mental well-being, and an overall improved life. Here are some ways to encourage sedentary spouses to exercise, nudging them towards a life of better health, greater happiness, and longevity.
Remember those vows you took? “In sickness and in health,” they said. Well, now is your chance to put those words into action. Why not take a class together? Zumba, yoga, or even ballroom dancing can provide some healthy and enjoyable movement you could share. Exercising together will provide a great platform for some shared laughter (and possibly a few shared tears) and promote a sense of camaraderie and mutual encouragement.
You are not training for the Olympics here. The goal is to get your spouse to move more, not scare them back onto the couch. So, start small. A gentle walk around the block, perhaps, or a leisurely bike ride through the park. “A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step,” “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and all that.
Disguise Exercise as Fun
Here comes the sneaky part. Turning exercise into a fun activity is a great way to motivate your partner to move. Don’t call it exercise; call it an excursion, an adventure, an outing, or an expedition! Get out your thesaurus and go to town with synonyms for activities that require rising to your feet and turning off the TV.
Go for a walk, visit a forest preserve or a national monument, or even go shopping for each other’s favorite sports jerseys and equipment. At least they’ll get a little resistance workout carrying shopping bags full of hockey pucks, pickleball paddles, footballs, or athletic shoes. The key is to make exercise seem less like a chore and more like an enjoyable pastime. And who knows? Maybe they won’t just throw their sports gear into the garage and forget about it—maybe this excursion will inspire them to engage in their favorite sport rather than simply watch it.
Take the Wins
It’s critical not to threaten dire consequences or to sound judge-y or critical when you’re trying to get a sedentary spouse to exercise. And when your spouse, however reluctantly, agrees to go for a walk with you, show your appreciation in a way that doesn’t feel like you’re just telling them to do more. That will only intensify their adhesion to the couch.
Phrase your praise in terms of how much your spouse’s companionship helped you. They keep you motivated! They’re a great coach! You need them!
Just don’t be surprised if your spouse picks out a loud whistle on a lanyard and a striped referee shirt on your next exercise-disguised-as-a-shopping-trip. Taking a little “coaching” from your spouse is worth it if it gets them moving. So, on your feet! It’s time for an adventure!