New research has found that physical activity could be the true secret to a happily ever after. 

It helps you bond as a couple

It helps you bond as a couple

The survey discovered that couples who stay active together feel a positive impact on their relationship, with more than half (56%) of those that take part in physical activity with their partner saying it increases their overall affections for them. Just over a third of couples (36%) found that taking part in physical activity with their partner actually gives them more energy to do other things, while just under a fifth (19%) say it increases their sex drive. The survey also discovered that just over a quarter (26%) of Brits in a relationship who enjoy doing physical activity together argue less, while almost two thirds (65%) say it encourages them to laugh more with each other. Leading psychologist, Donna Dawson, gives us six reasons why pulse-racing activities help couples stay together:

Puts you in the mood

Exciting activities with a slight edge of fear also cause adrenaline to be released, which makes you feel focused and alert, and more attracted to the person you’re sharing it with. Physical and mental stimulation soon translate into sexual desire.

Helps you to bond as a couple

Undergoing the same experience gives you common reference points to discuss and share later, which brings you both psychologically closer. Any time that you re-live this experience in the future, you will bring back the sense of closeness that you both shared.

Pulse-raising activities also release a hormone in the body called “oxytocin”, which encourages loyalty and fidelity, and makes heightened feelings of togetherness last, long past the event.

Tests your abilities in front of each other

Seeing how well your other half copes with a challenge makes you proud of them and increases your attraction for them. You also get an extra boost from watching others admire your partner’s efforts and skills.

Creates a playful sense of competition

Sharing an adventure that is physically or mentally testing encourages you to show-off in a positive way, and allows you to hone your competing skills without threatening your partner. Competing against each other in a safe way reminds us to compete in the wider world when we need to do so.

Increases a sense of trust in each other

When you need to rely on each other to get through an experience or to succeed at it, you test how far your partner is willing to go for you and how much you can rely on them in the future. Trust grows as a result.

Develops your sense of humour

Sharing and conquering a scary, but non-life-threatening experience can help you both to put smaller life problems in perspective at a later date, allowing you to laugh at them together instead of getting stressed by them.

A sense of humour provides some distance and a sense of control over problems. And laughter releases the feel-good chemical serotonin, which makes you feel happy and relaxed – an added bonus, and a necessary prelude to romance!

If you’re looking for inspiration, try Donna’s top bond-building UK breaks:

Rafting in Wales

Rafting is a competitive, high-octane activity, where you compete against the currents and possibly against other rafts. At the same time, your companions need to cooperate with each other, working as a team to keep the raft stable and afloat. The roar of the water, the speed, motion, and implicit sense of danger all work together to create an exhilarating atmosphere that raises your pulse rate and releases adrenaline, causing you to feel excited but focused and alert. Also released is a hormone called oxytocin, which encourages feelings of trust and social bonding - and more specifically, pair-bonding. It is the hormone that encourages fidelity, and it makes those heightened feelings of togetherness last, long after the event itself is over.

Does rafting in Wales take your fancy? Why not stay at Coniston, in Rhos-on-Sea, which is just a couple minutes’ walk to the coast:

Hiking in the Yorkshire Dales

This is a wonderful, mellow way to get close to each other. Ambling at your own pace, you can relax and unwind in the great outdoors. Away from the stress of daily life, conversation flows more naturally. An hour of such aerobic activity releases feel-good chemicals in the brain such as Anandamide (AEA, also known as the “bliss” compound) that help you to feel happy and serene. Any feelings of anxiety or depression disappear. If the sun is shining, your skin will absorb UV rays that will be converted to serotonin, another happiness chemical. Laughter also boosts serotonin production, and the end result is that you will return to your cottage feeling relaxed, happy, and in the mood for more romance. For a hiking break in the Yorkshire Dales, Ewe Cottage in Ingleton offers all you could need on your doorstep:  

Surfing in Ireland

This activity challenges you in many ways: catching the surf, staying upright on your board, and riding the wave to the end. You compete to do the best against yourself and you also compete with each other, to see who can stand up first. It provides the same kind of adrenalin rush as rafting, but it’s more personal, because it’s everyone for themselves. It requires stamina, endurance, perseverance and hard work, but there is a reward at the end of it – an experience that immerses you in nature, puts you at one with the ocean and wind, and makes you feel more alive. Succeeding in this stimulating environment makes you feel better about your own abilities and those of your partner. You have tested yourselves and won.

Surf’s up in Ireland. Why not try visiting Summerfield Lodge in County Cork for a white-knuckle experience:

Rock-Climbing in the Peak District

This is a very precise and methodical activity that requires careful planning and the utmost concentration and cooperation. You need to trust each other implicitly, because where you put your hands and feet on the next move will determine your safety. A slight feeling of fear is a great binder, and working together through that fear releases the bonding chemical, oxytocin. After a successful climb, you gain a sense of both your own achievement and that of being part of a striving, ambitious couple. Both of these feelings lead to appreciating each other more. Fancy heading to the Peak District for a rock-climbing adventure? Little Owl Barn in Longnor is the quintessential country pad to complete your trip:

Horse-Riding in Cornwall

This is a sport that challenges you to multi-task: staying in control of your horse, keeping up with your partner or the group, and appreciating the scenery. You also have the choice of being as relaxed or as active as you want – a quiet walk, a brisk trot or an all-out gallop. Once you have conquered any anxiety, you gain a euphoric feeling of being at one with nature together. Bude, near Cornwall, is the perfect place for a spot of horse riding. Complete your getaway with a stay in Stables Barn:

Caving in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset

This activity combines the care and caution of rock-climbing with the personal achievement associated with either horse-riding or surfing. However, because it all takes place in an enclosed, dark space, it can create a frisson of fear that challenges you to conquer and control it. Fear transforms into feelings of excitement, as you work closely with your surroundings and each other. This is an experience that boosts the romance quotient, because when danger is shared, you bond more closely together. Cheddar Gorge is a caving hotspot and this barn is perfect for some rest and recuperation after a long day of pulse-racing activity:

Paragliding in the Lake District

If you want the ultimate surge of adrenaline, then this is the activity for you. If one of you is proficient, then the two of you can fly strapped together (tandem). Not only will you experience flying as if you were ‘one body’, but the bonding hormone, oxytocin, as well as adrenaline, will act to heighten the whole experience. Up in the air, you both experience the world from a whole new dimension, and the rush of sights and sounds will leave an overwhelming impression. Once landed, relief, gratitude and the survival instinct kicks in, making you feel much closer to the person you shared it with.

After a day up in the skies, Secret Nook in the Lake District is the perfect chill-out hideaway – a cosy Edwardian townhouse in the centre of Windermere:

Sykes Cottages is the fastest-growing UK cottage holiday company, and has been helping Brits discover new experiences on their doorstep for over 25 years.

To book your bond-building break, please visit:

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