These healthy date ideas may help you find a more meaningful relationship

With scientific developments, medical discoveries, and innovative new ways to track fitness goals, we spend more time obsessing over our wellbeing than ever before. But when we think about health, we tend to fixate on nutrition, exercise, and other physiological factors, even though holistic wellbeing — the true marker of wellness — is impacted by all of our lifestyle choices, including how we connect to people. This includes family members, friends, and — of course — romantic relationships.

The classic image of a romantic date is an indulgent dinner at a top-rated restaurant complete with wine and a decadent dessert. While there’s certainly a place for that kind of old-school outing, it might not be the optimal way to do romance; there’s even science to back this up! One study asked couples to engage in activities they self-defined as either “pleasant” (think binge-watching) or “exciting” (something new or exhilarating). What the researchers discovered is that those who participated in activities they considered “exciting” had a significantly higher rate of satisfaction than those in the “pleasant” group. That’s because novelty releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that impacts the brain’s reward system, enhancing pleasure.

So why settle for chit-chat and a carb coma when you could create an experience that will help you get to know your date better — or bring the spark back to your relationship — all while maintaining your health priorities? In partnership with fitness smartwatch brand Amazfit, we’ve come up with six ideas for healthy, invigorating dates that inspire meaningful connection.

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[1] Get Outdoors

You don’t need us to tell you that being in nature is healing, inspiring, relaxing, and offers a healthy dose of escape. It’s a great way to find or build on a common interest like easy hikes, bike rides, or even mini golf. For added mental stimulation you could explore a sculpture garden or try a historical walking tour.

Short on time or cash? A walk around one of your city’s historical, colorful, or scenic neighborhoods is a great way to get some fresh air, bask in the sun, and prompt conversation more interesting than, “Well, that was a weird episode. Do you want to watch another?”

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[2] Elevate Your Heart Rate

Choosing an activity that doubles as exercise is a pretty obvious choice when it comes to planning a healthy date, but there are benefits beyond the obvious cardio conditioning. The heightened physiological state your body enters during exercise actually causes increased arousal and can make your partner look more attractive. It’s also been proven that after completing a physical activity, couples feel more satisfied with their relationships and more in love with their partner.

Plus, overcoming a physical challenge with your date can strengthen your bond and make it easier to turn to one another for emotional support. When you work out with someone else, you begin to coordinate your actions, like matching your partner’s walking or running pace. That nonverbal mimicry creates space for emotional attunement, increasing a sense of bonding. Stay on track and hold each other accountable with matching fitness trackers, like these from Amazfit.

Source: Amazfit

[3] Cook Collaboratively

Not only will cooking your own meal ensure your dishes are as healthy (or not!) as you want, it also provides a platform for learning, collaboration, and casual conversation. Whether you choose a sushi-making class or break open a meal delivery kit with your date, the process of working together toward a common goal promotes teamwork and provides the satisfaction of starting and completing a task.

[4] Get Gaming

Whether it’s pinball, bowling, trivia, cards, or shooting pool, games are a great way to stimulate the mind, getting you and your date to think creatively and strategically to solve problems and score points. You may find that you share a common interest or strength, or discover a side of your date’s personality you wouldn’t necessarily see over dinner or a movie. To create the most meaningful connection, choose something neither of you has mastered so you can learn together.

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[5] Pack a Picnic

The obvious upside to packing a picnic is that you have free reign over what’s inside the basket, so the menu can be as healthy or diet-specific as you want. Enjoying a picnic packed with healthy favorites will leave you feeling light and energized for the next adventure instead of in a carb crash. You’ll have time to enjoy a nice meal and conversation at your leisure without interruption.

[6] Volunteer

Doing meaningful work with someone is a great way to get to know them and their values, or to bring you closer as a couple. Depending on your interests, you could do something in service of the environment, a social cause, or animals. Volunteering can be as lighthearted as dedicating a few hours to walking dogs at the local shelter or pitching in on a beach clean-up, or something more intensive, like working with the elderly, ill, or homeless. Whatever you choose is going to leave you feeling good and lend perspective on your life, making you grateful for what you have — including each other.