Take a Hike: Building Relationships Through Exercise

Reviewed Feb 26, 2017

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Summary

Team-building physical activities build trust, open lines of communication and allow groups to reinvent themselves. These principles can be applied to personal relationships.

For more than a decade, team-building exercises centering on physical exercise have been a staple of business school, corporate, and other organizational communities. From climbing rock walls to falling backward blindfolded to hiking craggy mountain paths, these activities have been proven to build trust, open lines of communication, and allow groups to reinvent themselves.

Trust, communication, reinvention. These are words that can easily be applied to personal relationships. Therefore, why not apply the principles behind team-building physical exercise to personal relationships?

“Principals” in action

Anna and David Farrell never thought they would exercise together. He loves to ski; she hates winter sports. He spent years running several times a week, while she rarely visited the gym. But while in their 40s, the Farrells discovered volksmarching. As evidenced by its name, volksmarching began decades ago in Germany and now has fans all over the world who walk six-kilometer courses laid out by local clubs.

The Farrells began taking occasional volksmarches with their upstate New York club. At first, they enjoyed the after-walk bratwurst-and-beer fests more than the exercise. Slowly they began taking more walks, then taking walks when they were on vacation, just to see the sights. Before they knew it, they were hooked—they've recently taken two long holidays centered on volksmarching during which they walked every day, sometimes twice.

"David has always been very coordinated and adventurous," says Anna. "Women of my generation weren't encouraged to sweat hard. But now I've learned to love moving and exercise. It's definitely brought us closer together." David agrees: "It was nice to spend time together, especially while we were still working. (The Farrells are now both retired.) But now I find we actually understand each other better, both on our walking courses, and off."

Why it works

Neither of the Farrells is sure exactly why this is so, but they offer some ideas. "Maybe it's because we talk while we walk?" says Anna. "Maybe it's because we've seen each other persevere—when you're training for a longer walk, you work pretty hard," says David. But Monterey, CA-based family counselor and sexual therapist Stephen Braveman offers further insight. "For example, if we enjoy a roller coaster at an amusement park, then for us, a roller coaster equals good time. Similarly, if we exercise with a spouse or partner and have a good time, then we match that energy up with our partner."

In training for longer walks, the Farrells also work out together at their local gym, and both have seen significant changes in their body mass index, cholesterol levels, muscle strength, and aerobic capacity. "Working out together is one of the very best things a couple can do to ensure a long, vibrant relationship," says Braveman. Exercise greatly reduces residual body stress.

Tips to try

Balance between partners can also be maintained if, like the Farrells, a couple learns a skill that is new to both of them. "That way, neither person has a distinct advantage over the other and they get to share in the fun of learning together," Doug Schurman, a sports conditioning trainer from Seattle, WA, has said. "Of course, it depends on the couple. Some thrive on competition, constantly pushing each other to dig deeper. There's nothing wrong with good-natured competition, if both people emphasize the fun of it. Tennis and racquetball are good sports for couples who are naturally competitive." Braveman says that learning a new skill or practicing an old one is "more efficient. Couples today are so stressed—combining physical exercise with quality time just makes sense."

A little bit of competitiveness can also keep couples motivated. "I'll think, 'If he's going to stay on the treadmill that long, I can, too," says Anna. "The encouragement of having each other as gym partners has really added to our life." As Braveman says, "When both partners are actualizing this sort of lifestyle they help draw out the best in each other and thereby increase their sense of satisfaction and attainment with the relationship."

Resources

The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)
www.nols.edu

American Hiking Society
www.americanhiking.org

Women's Wilderness
www.womenswilderness.org

By Bethanne Kelly Patrick
Source: The Seattle Times; Outside Magazine; Chatelaine Magazine; David and Anna Farrell; Stephen Braveman, PhD, family counselor and sexual therapist, Monterey, CA; Doug Schurman, sports conditioning trainer, Seattle, WA

Summary

Team-building physical activities build trust, open lines of communication and allow groups to reinvent themselves. These principles can be applied to personal relationships.

For more than a decade, team-building exercises centering on physical exercise have been a staple of business school, corporate, and other organizational communities. From climbing rock walls to falling backward blindfolded to hiking craggy mountain paths, these activities have been proven to build trust, open lines of communication, and allow groups to reinvent themselves.

Trust, communication, reinvention. These are words that can easily be applied to personal relationships. Therefore, why not apply the principles behind team-building physical exercise to personal relationships?

“Principals” in action

Anna and David Farrell never thought they would exercise together. He loves to ski; she hates winter sports. He spent years running several times a week, while she rarely visited the gym. But while in their 40s, the Farrells discovered volksmarching. As evidenced by its name, volksmarching began decades ago in Germany and now has fans all over the world who walk six-kilometer courses laid out by local clubs.

The Farrells began taking occasional volksmarches with their upstate New York club. At first, they enjoyed the after-walk bratwurst-and-beer fests more than the exercise. Slowly they began taking more walks, then taking walks when they were on vacation, just to see the sights. Before they knew it, they were hooked—they've recently taken two long holidays centered on volksmarching during which they walked every day, sometimes twice.

"David has always been very coordinated and adventurous," says Anna. "Women of my generation weren't encouraged to sweat hard. But now I've learned to love moving and exercise. It's definitely brought us closer together." David agrees: "It was nice to spend time together, especially while we were still working. (The Farrells are now both retired.) But now I find we actually understand each other better, both on our walking courses, and off."

Why it works

Neither of the Farrells is sure exactly why this is so, but they offer some ideas. "Maybe it's because we talk while we walk?" says Anna. "Maybe it's because we've seen each other persevere—when you're training for a longer walk, you work pretty hard," says David. But Monterey, CA-based family counselor and sexual therapist Stephen Braveman offers further insight. "For example, if we enjoy a roller coaster at an amusement park, then for us, a roller coaster equals good time. Similarly, if we exercise with a spouse or partner and have a good time, then we match that energy up with our partner."

In training for longer walks, the Farrells also work out together at their local gym, and both have seen significant changes in their body mass index, cholesterol levels, muscle strength, and aerobic capacity. "Working out together is one of the very best things a couple can do to ensure a long, vibrant relationship," says Braveman. Exercise greatly reduces residual body stress.

Tips to try

Balance between partners can also be maintained if, like the Farrells, a couple learns a skill that is new to both of them. "That way, neither person has a distinct advantage over the other and they get to share in the fun of learning together," Doug Schurman, a sports conditioning trainer from Seattle, WA, has said. "Of course, it depends on the couple. Some thrive on competition, constantly pushing each other to dig deeper. There's nothing wrong with good-natured competition, if both people emphasize the fun of it. Tennis and racquetball are good sports for couples who are naturally competitive." Braveman says that learning a new skill or practicing an old one is "more efficient. Couples today are so stressed—combining physical exercise with quality time just makes sense."

A little bit of competitiveness can also keep couples motivated. "I'll think, 'If he's going to stay on the treadmill that long, I can, too," says Anna. "The encouragement of having each other as gym partners has really added to our life." As Braveman says, "When both partners are actualizing this sort of lifestyle they help draw out the best in each other and thereby increase their sense of satisfaction and attainment with the relationship."

Resources

The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)
www.nols.edu

American Hiking Society
www.americanhiking.org

Women's Wilderness
www.womenswilderness.org

By Bethanne Kelly Patrick
Source: The Seattle Times; Outside Magazine; Chatelaine Magazine; David and Anna Farrell; Stephen Braveman, PhD, family counselor and sexual therapist, Monterey, CA; Doug Schurman, sports conditioning trainer, Seattle, WA

Summary

Team-building physical activities build trust, open lines of communication and allow groups to reinvent themselves. These principles can be applied to personal relationships.

For more than a decade, team-building exercises centering on physical exercise have been a staple of business school, corporate, and other organizational communities. From climbing rock walls to falling backward blindfolded to hiking craggy mountain paths, these activities have been proven to build trust, open lines of communication, and allow groups to reinvent themselves.

Trust, communication, reinvention. These are words that can easily be applied to personal relationships. Therefore, why not apply the principles behind team-building physical exercise to personal relationships?

“Principals” in action

Anna and David Farrell never thought they would exercise together. He loves to ski; she hates winter sports. He spent years running several times a week, while she rarely visited the gym. But while in their 40s, the Farrells discovered volksmarching. As evidenced by its name, volksmarching began decades ago in Germany and now has fans all over the world who walk six-kilometer courses laid out by local clubs.

The Farrells began taking occasional volksmarches with their upstate New York club. At first, they enjoyed the after-walk bratwurst-and-beer fests more than the exercise. Slowly they began taking more walks, then taking walks when they were on vacation, just to see the sights. Before they knew it, they were hooked—they've recently taken two long holidays centered on volksmarching during which they walked every day, sometimes twice.

"David has always been very coordinated and adventurous," says Anna. "Women of my generation weren't encouraged to sweat hard. But now I've learned to love moving and exercise. It's definitely brought us closer together." David agrees: "It was nice to spend time together, especially while we were still working. (The Farrells are now both retired.) But now I find we actually understand each other better, both on our walking courses, and off."

Why it works

Neither of the Farrells is sure exactly why this is so, but they offer some ideas. "Maybe it's because we talk while we walk?" says Anna. "Maybe it's because we've seen each other persevere—when you're training for a longer walk, you work pretty hard," says David. But Monterey, CA-based family counselor and sexual therapist Stephen Braveman offers further insight. "For example, if we enjoy a roller coaster at an amusement park, then for us, a roller coaster equals good time. Similarly, if we exercise with a spouse or partner and have a good time, then we match that energy up with our partner."

In training for longer walks, the Farrells also work out together at their local gym, and both have seen significant changes in their body mass index, cholesterol levels, muscle strength, and aerobic capacity. "Working out together is one of the very best things a couple can do to ensure a long, vibrant relationship," says Braveman. Exercise greatly reduces residual body stress.

Tips to try

Balance between partners can also be maintained if, like the Farrells, a couple learns a skill that is new to both of them. "That way, neither person has a distinct advantage over the other and they get to share in the fun of learning together," Doug Schurman, a sports conditioning trainer from Seattle, WA, has said. "Of course, it depends on the couple. Some thrive on competition, constantly pushing each other to dig deeper. There's nothing wrong with good-natured competition, if both people emphasize the fun of it. Tennis and racquetball are good sports for couples who are naturally competitive." Braveman says that learning a new skill or practicing an old one is "more efficient. Couples today are so stressed—combining physical exercise with quality time just makes sense."

A little bit of competitiveness can also keep couples motivated. "I'll think, 'If he's going to stay on the treadmill that long, I can, too," says Anna. "The encouragement of having each other as gym partners has really added to our life." As Braveman says, "When both partners are actualizing this sort of lifestyle they help draw out the best in each other and thereby increase their sense of satisfaction and attainment with the relationship."

Resources

The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)
www.nols.edu

American Hiking Society
www.americanhiking.org

Women's Wilderness
www.womenswilderness.org

By Bethanne Kelly Patrick
Source: The Seattle Times; Outside Magazine; Chatelaine Magazine; David and Anna Farrell; Stephen Braveman, PhD, family counselor and sexual therapist, Monterey, CA; Doug Schurman, sports conditioning trainer, Seattle, WA

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