It turns out “long walks on the beach” aren’t just a cheesy personal ad cliche; they’re one of the most romantic ways to spend time with your partner or connect with a loved one. Walking together enhances your relationship in emotional, mental and physical ways — and it’s surprisingly great for resolving healthy debates!
So, instead of another date night in front of the TV, consider heading out for a simple walk. Here’s why:
WALKING LETS YOU SPEND TIME IN NATURE
You may not be able to convince your partner to start running or hitting the gym with you, but a walking routine can be equally beneficial when it comes to long-term health. Time spent in nature has actually been shown to decrease stress on a cellular level: Just 20 minutes spent outside can drop cortisol levels, and keep them lower even during stressful times, according to a 2019 study.
WALKING GIVES YOU SPACE TO COMMUNICATE
At home, it’s easy to stay on the surface when it comes to communication. There are plenty of distractions around you, from a pile of laundry to groceries that need to be put away to the ping of your phone. Heading out on a walk (preferably with your phone on ‘do not disturb’) gives you the space to talk about the things you never seem to make time for at home, whether you’re having serious “Where will we be in 10 years” kind of discussions or just reliving a favorite moment from a vacation you took three years ago. As you walk, it’s easier to have these deep conversations without feeling as vulnerable. Psychologists agree: Walks force you to literally be in step with each other, leading to improved communication and connection.
WALKING CAN BOOST YOUR MOOD
A 2016 study found walking actually improved a person’s mood, making them feel happier and more energized, so the next time you’re having a disagreement or are just in a funk with your significant other, don’t sulk on the couch. Get out and move. In addition to the mood-boosting benefits, the walk might also give you time to actually have a conversation about what’s bothering you.
WALKING IS A FORM OF NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION
Walking in step with someone can actually change your perception of them: A 2020 study found walking side-by-side, even without speaking, changed a person’s impression of their walking partner for the better. “It is very surprising for us to discover that a person’s traits and our first impressions are reflected in the subtle action of walking,” researcher Chia-huei Tseng, PhD, says. But, as your steps synchronize, you’ll likely be inclined to agree with your partner or at least become more understanding of their side of an argument, making a walk an excellent spot to work out any disagreements.
WALKING DATES ARE CHEAPER THAN A NIGHT ON THE TOWN
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that some of the best things in life are often free, including walking dates. As people tried to figure out how to date during a pandemic, meeting for a walk — maybe grabbing a takeout coffee at the beginning — became a popular option that replaced going out for dinner and drinks. Hopefully, that’s a trend that sticks around. For busy couples who struggle to fit in romance and fitness, a walking date may be the best of both worlds.
VIRTUAL WALKS COUNT, TOO
Remember, this doesn’t have to apply just to a romantic partner, or even someone who lives near you. You may not live in the same state as your friend or family member, but you can still take virtual walks together. Plan to phone or (depending on if you have a remote enough route) even video chat while you walk. If your schedules aren’t simpatico, try listening to the same audiobook or podcast while walking, then discuss it later. Get creative with ways to walk with other people, even if walks together in real life are impossible.
Check out “Workout Routines” in the MyFitnessPal app to discover and log workouts or build your own with exercises that fit your goals.