Whether you’re going out with someone new or enjoying quality time with your long-term partner, the best date nights often have a few things in common: fun, relaxation and delicious food. As such, it’s perfectly OK and normal to schedule “cheat” meals, thoroughly enjoy the 20 in your 80/20 diet, or go over your calorie goals from time to time. But, if you’re tired of spending the evening in front of the TV or overeating when you dine out, there are plenty of ways you can add fitness and nutrition to your dates — while still keeping it exciting.
“A virtual cooking class is a fun date night activity to improve your cooking skills and confidence in the kitchen, which will benefit you on your weight-loss journey,” says Brittany Crump, RD. Look for a class taught by a registered dietitian to sharpen your culinary skills while learning how to create a balanced, healthy and low-calorie meal at home. Make it especially thoughtful by choosing a cuisine style that interests your partner.
The COVID-19 pandemic has postponed many international walking tours, but you can still explore new corners of your city. “Pick out a few major landmarks to visit, and you’ll up your step count in no time,” suggests Grady Bridges, a certified personal trainer. Another pro tip: “Walk with a coffee in hand, and you’ll be less inclined to pick up something to eat.”
To incorporate more physical activity into your day (and socially distance, if necessary), a bike tour is a perfect date. If you don’t have a bike, it’s easy to pick up some rentals or use a bike share for a few hours. “Find a local trail to ride and stop at outdoor attractions on the way to explore your city,” suggests Crump. Bonus points: “Pack a healthy meal to have a picnic at a local park on your path.” Compared to takeout, homemade meals tend to be far lower in calories and allow you the opportunity to personalize your picks (Think: a romantic charcuterie spread or your partner’s favorite dessert).
Rent some kayaks, and you’ve got an adventurous—yet intimate—date night ahead, especially if you schedule your paddle for sunset over the water. “Kayaking is great for weight loss because you can torch calories by engaging your core and upper body,” says Max Grossman, a certified personal trainer and founder and director of Health Engineered.
“Ask your partner if they’d be your workout buddy so you can spend time together while working on yourselves,” says Chris Higgins, a certified personal trainer. Plan an active date, whether that’s a challenging HIIT workout, weightlifting session, bodyweight workout or even a virtual group fitness class. A big pro: Research shows you’ll likely push yourself harder to impress them (win-win!). Afterward, you can chat over a cooldown walk, then refuel with a healthy dinner.
For a unique, fun date night, visit your local ax-throwing establishment. Sure, throwing darts and playing pool can be fun, but ax-throwing can get you out of your comfort zone, bring out your competitive side and burn more calories. “It’s a great upper-body workout, and most places have it set up in a way where you are still socially distanced from others,” says Ramsey Bergeron, a certified personal trainer.
“A hike up a mountain peak can help you reconnect with nature, de-stress, build strength and test your endurance,” says Higgins. Better yet, you’ll be many miles away from fast food and can fuel your hike with healthy snacks. For a romantic touch, look for a trail with sweeping panoramic views or find a hike that ends somewhere special, like a campsite for stargazing. If you’re new to hiking, just remember to start small and gradually build your way up to longer, more challenging hikes.
If you miss hitting the club for hip-hop dancing or wish you could take sexy salsa classes, there’s no reason you can’t while safe at home with your partner. Take a virtual dancing class, follow along on YouTube, make a playlist with your favorite songs and get dressed up for a fancy night in, or play a lighthearted dancing game together. For instance, Bergeron and his wife enjoy “dance-offs” on the Xbox game Just Dance. “It’s usually hilarious, and you’re not sure if you’re out of breath from laughing or dancing,” he says.
Looking to strengthen your relationship or lighten the mood? “The word ‘yoga’ means ‘union,’ and doing yoga poses together does just that,” says Virna Lichter, a certified yoga teacher and meditation coach. If it’s safe for you, doing yoga together with a virtual instructor can help improve your cooperation and connection and support weight loss by getting you moving and easing stress. Up the romance with rose petals, candles and a fresh bowl of fruit to enjoy after practice, suggests Lichter.
Stress triggers a surge in hormones that can increase cravings and hinder weight loss. That’s where a massage therapy session with your partner could make for a fun, stress-relieving date night that also supports weight loss goals. “You don’t have to be a pro to give a good massage — it’s less about technique and more about being in tune with each other,” says Lichter. “Start with the hands, shoulders and feet and use touch and questions to get to know what your partner wants and needs,” she says.
Discover hundreds of healthy recipes — from high protein to low carb — via “Recipe Discovery” in the MyFitnessPal app.
This content was originally published here.