“New Year, New You” is an ongoing blog series focused on on getting your mind, body and spirit ready for dating in 2013. The series will feature posts by Dr. Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist and scientific advisor for Chemistry.com, Bela Gandhi, Dating Coach and President of Smart Dating Academy, and Amanda Ebner, M.A.; M.Ed.; and personal trainer for FitOrbit.com, an online personal training resource.

By FitOrbit.com Trainer Amanda Ebner

Between all the ways to meet a date, the singles scene is increasingly hard to navigate.  What’s the best way to go about finding a fit match?  What are the connections between exercise and relationships?  And can a healthy lifestyle really make you more attractive to potential partners?

Many single folks think working out is simply a means to an end – if you work hard to get a hot body, you will find an equally fitness-minded mate, and the rest is history.  But working out can be much more than simply a body-sculpting means to landing a future relationship.  It can also reframe the way you think about your goals, your fuel, and your overall health – both physical and emotional.

Rather than drudging through exercise in an attempt to lose weight or gain muscle, think about the process of exercise as something worth pursuing: a vital part of your life that gives you joy and makes you more attractive to potential partners.  As you begin to think about your exercise program, create a rewards system – for example, if you work out three times in a week, you’ll treat yourself to a massage or a new book.  Not into external rewards? Then how about this: studies show that people who work out are more confident and have higher self-efficacy than those who do not (Marcus et al., 1992).  Regular exercisers also report a better self-image, regardless of body types or type of exercise performed (Mangano 2009).  A recent study found that exercise increases overall feelings of positivity and happiness, and can offer lifelong protection against diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia, high blood pressure, and anxiety (Durham 2012).  Getting fit now is like giving your future partner the greatest gift of all – a healthy and strong person with whom she or he can spend the rest of their lives.

If you’re single, use the gym to your advantage and get to know the community there – take classes, sign up for personal training, and go to weekend events like Spin marathons or Zumba parties.  If you’re already in a relationship, consider starting a new active hobby together, such as training for a 5K race, signing up for a Boot Camp series, or committing to a personal trainer (many trainers offer “buddy” or partner sessions at discounted rates).

No matter what your relationship status, regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle can give you the confidence boost you need to be your best self – and a better partner – for years to come.