Question: What one activity can improve your physical health, enhance your mental well-being, elevate your mood, and increase communication with your spouse?
Answer: Walking together.
Most everyone knows that walking is a great form of exercise. Experts agree that walking improves general fitness, including cardiac health.
Walking in combination with a healthy diet can help prevent weight gain. It creates less strain on joints than many other forms of exercise thus reducing pain. Walking can also improve endurance, circulation, and posture.
And the mental health benefits from regular walking are notable. Walking, especially outdoors in the fresh air, can reduce mental fatigue and elevate your mood.
In other words, walking can energize you.
That’s enough to make you want to lace up your favorite shoes and head out the door!
But before you start that pre-walk stretching, why not check in with your spouse and see if they want to go walking with you.
Because walking together offers some added benefits that just may improve your marriage.
A twenty minute walk provides the perfect time frame for catching up with one another. You might share events from your day, relate a conversation you had with the neighbor, or touch base about a home project. Or you could use the time to check in emotionally if you’ve noticed your spouse is stressed or frustrated. All marriages benefit from regular conversation time, especially the kind of unhurried conversation you can enjoy walking together.
Sometimes you just need a break to refresh and refocus. And walking can provide the mini get-away you need to do just that. You may not want to talk at all. Silence and solitude can be enjoyed together, along with the sound of your footsteps, and noises of the world around you. Regular walks with your spouse can provide shared experiences and meaningful moments of connection that enhance your relationship.
Prioritizing Couple Time
Daily walks are a simple way to prioritize intentional time together as a couple. That’s part of a healthy marriage.
As an added bonus, if you have children who are old enough to stay home alone for a few minutes, it’s good for them to see you making time for each other. And a 15 minute walk after dinner may be a good way to model that healthy relationship habit. So while your kids load the dishwasher, do their homework, or start watching a favorite movie, you might take some mommy and daddy time and go walking. Children feel most secure when their parents have a loving relationship. And parents need time to just be a couple.
Still another good reason to go walking together is because men and women communicate differently. Sociologist Harry Brod points out that men often prefer a side-by-side shoulder orientation for conversation.
“Numerous studies have established that men are more likely to define emotional closeness as working or playing side-by-side, while women often view it as talking face-to-face.”
So walking may provide a more natural and comfortable setting for husbands to enjoy conversation with their wives. And what better reason to hit the road, or the trail together!
Warning: Watch Your Speed
A recent study conducted by the department of health and kinesiology at Purdue University indicates that romantic couples walking together tend to gravitate toward the pace of the slower walker.
So if walking is your primary form of exercise, you may want to continue your faster solo walks in addition to walking at a slower pace with your spouse.
Of course, you may find that after some time strolling together, gently encouraging your spouse to pick up the pace a bit benefits their health, as well as yours.
And that might even give you additional years to enjoy all the marriage enhancing benefits of walking together!