VALENTINE FEATURE: Make the heart beat faster on Valentine’s Day

February is the time to celebrate the ones we love.

Having a partner on Valen­tine’s Day might be good for the date book, but it could also be good for health. According to Participaction, the national voice of physical activity and sport participation in Canada, having someone to exercise with can improve the odds of being active for a lifetime.

"Your spouse or partner can be your best exercise buddy," said Kelly Murumets, president and chief executive officer of Participaction. "Having a part­ner is not just about who you share your life with, it’s about the lifestyle you build togeth­er."

Research shows that married individuals participate in exercise more often than their single counterparts. In a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise that checked 3,075 people, married couples were more likely to be active than non-married individuals. And if one spouse was active, the other spouse was also more likely to be active. In fact, spouses of highly active men were three times more likely to be active than partners of in­active husbands.

Those not planning to tie the knot anytime soon, can make plans with a friend or love interest and take on the task of getting active together.

Getting more physical activity into the day does not require a huge investment of time or money. According to Canada’s Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living, people need 60 minutes of activity a day – and that doesn’t have to be done all at once. There are plenty of fun things to do, 10 minutes at a time, to get to that daily total.

And there are plenty of opportunities to move closer together.

"Try an active date this Valen­tine’s Day," said Murumets. "Take a ballroom dancing lesson, learn couples’ massage, or try ice skating."

In addition to trying new things, there are many ways to get more movement into the activities people already enjoy. With some creativity and commitment, they can ease themselves into a healthier lifestyle and make more of their time together. Here are some suggestions for getting the heart beating a little faster on Valentine’s Day:

A romantic stroll

Walk to and from a favourite restaurant together – or to the theatre after dinner. Enjoy some fresh air and the time to unwind and share a conversation.

An active getaway

If thinking of whisking him or her away for the weekend, try ski vacation or adding a hike in the woods to the ro­mantic itinerary.

Valentine’s Day hunt

If chocolates are a tradi­tional Valentine’s treat, take a cue from the Easter Bunny and hide them around the house or apartment.

Feeling the music

Dancing in the living room, stretching, or doing yoga together will help people unwind and set the mood for a romantic evening.

"A fit and healthy body will also make you feel better about yourself," said Murumets. "And sometimes that’s the best way to set the mood."