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Valentine's Day opens door for romance, activities

Feb. 13, 2001

Couple exercise programs more successful, officials say

Team workout offers quality time together

By JOHN ALLEN

Reporter

You want to stay in shape, but you also want to spend some quality time with your significant other. The good news is that blending the two priorities is not only good for your health -- it can also make your relationship stronger.

Experts say couples who exercise together are more likely to stick to it than people who do it alone, said Barbara Paulsen, a columnist for health.com.

'The commitment of a lifetime needn't prevent a lifetime of fitness,' Paulsen wrote in a recent column.

Although work, school and other commitments make it difficult, physical fitness is a priority for some couples. Matthew and Laura Eickman are an example. Matthew is a Baylor law student and Laura is a Baylor graduate student working in clinical psychology.

'We work out together two or three times a week and once or twice individually,' Laura said, after playing racquetball with Matthew at the McLane Student Life Center.

The couple enjoys several activities together, including running, biking, lifting weights and racquetball.

Fitness brought the couple together in the first place. The two met while playing basketball for recreation at the University of Nebraska.

'We flirted as much as we played basketball,' Matthew said, smiling at Laura.

Laura immediately recognized the coy smile, pleased that the flirting had not stopped after four years of dating and eight months of marriage.

The Eickmans use the SLC for its convenience and the equipment available. They use each other for motivation.

'I don't like to lift [weights], so he helps [motivate] me,' Laura said.

'It doesn't matter if you're good at it or not; it's just good exercise and fun,' Matthew said.

For some couples, however, it is not so easy.

Massi and Page Wyatt fit that category. Massi, a Baylor graduate student, wants to lose 20 pounds before beginning a three-year commitment to the U. S. Army as part of his military scholarship.

'I like to get up early and workout, but she likes to sleep,' Massi said.

The Wyatts enjoy walking, racquetball, lifting weights and hiking in nearby state parks. Massi likes the stress relief that exercise provides, while Page thinks the quality time together is important.

'Any time we can spend together, with our schedules, is great,' Page said.

Working out together gives couples a way of interacting that isn't centered on work or home life.

The one-on-one time strengthens the relationship in that it leads to more self-confidence and an equitable balance between partners, said Stephen Braveman, a family counselor and certified sex therapist quoted in a Dads Today article.

For those couples with children, it is vital to create time for each other and maintain a regular workout schedule. If child-care isn't readily available, parents can alternate schedules. Creating an in-home workout station is another option. Or, include the child, as Laura Eickman plans to do.

'We'll stay active after having kids and get them involved,' she said.

Van Smith-Davis, Baylor fitness coordinator, says that just getting started is the key and that there are several activities for beginners.

'Casual walking will improve cardiovascular fitness in addition to giving you quality time together. I would also recommend starting a basic weight lifting program to build muscular endurance,' Smith-Davis said.

For fun, she suggests trying things like dancing, in-line skating or even rock-climbing at the SLC, which is free for students, faculty and staff. Competitive sports such as racquetball, bowling or tennis are fun activities for couples and feel less like a workout.

'They can bring a new fire to a relationship,' Smith-Davis said.

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