5 Healthy Valentine’s Day Date Hacks

5 Healthy Valentine’s Day Date Hacks

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Our blogger says she is living proof that a successful Valentine's Day date doesn't need to be a sit-down candlelit calorie fest. Here's her five ways you can get your heart pumping on February 14th and feel the love for your body, and if you're lucky, for someone else's.

Dear Reader,

Before you plunk down big bucks to be served an expensive meal from a limited menu at a too-crowded restaurant filled with nervous couples being given wilting roses, hear me out. There is a better way.

I have been married for more than 15 years (yes, to the same person) and my mother was a romance novelist. I’ve got faith in love, and I think finding it, or working to re-kindle it, is always interesting. From a health perspective, the holiday falls during Heart Health Month, and there’s no doubt that love is good for your heart. So I’m not the person who will say Valentine’s Day is a meaningless, over-commercialized holiday. It can be a fun over-commercialized holiday if you own it.

In the beginning...

Before kids, before we had a dog, and before any wedding, I had a first Valentine’s Day date with my now-husband. We went ice skating in New York City, at Rockefeller Center — a/k/a that famous rink by the big tree. He surprised me with the date’s itinerary, because I really like surprises, and I was confident the surprise wouldn’t be me meeting his secret family or whatever.

I grew up not far from a county-owned rink and had years of experience. I had lessons, and I had absurd boa-trimmed costumes that a family friend sewed for me. So of course visions of my handsome date and I gliding across the ice like Torvill & Dean danced in my head as we waited in the cold to rent skates. (Yeah, I know, the Torvill & Dean reference dates me… but I couldn’t think of a more current famous skating couple, can you?)

He is and was a fit, trim, tall character, who was instantly turned into a piece of slippery spaghetti as soon as he hit the ice. He had never skated before, and I became his caretaker, propping and lifting him up as he clung to the wall and repeatedly banged the toes of his skates — BAM! BAM! BAM! — into the side of the rink.

Watching a well-dressed British man huffing, slipping, and saying things like, “OH!” and “ARGHHH!” — well the tourists lining the rink thought it was hilarious. And in between bouts of fighting for his life, he thought it was funny too.

The rest of the date we were rosy-cheeked and smiling. We wandered all over the city, walking for one drink here, a bite to eat there. I learned he couldn’t skate, but I also realized here was a partner who could take risks, persevere, and most importantly, who could laugh at himself. Important note: I was seriously glad it wasn’t a tennis or Cricket match date — two things he’s good at but I’ve still got no clue how to do.

And so, I’m here to campaign for you to do something active and, if possible, unexpected. If the date is a bust, at least you’ll have burned some calories and done your body good. But if the date goes well — you’ll feel energized, you’ll strengthen your hearts, and you’ll have a memory that will be so much more satisfying than a meal. Plus memories are fat-free, but that pricey Beef Wellington? Not so much.

Here then are five ideas to get your heart pumping on the big day.

5 Healthy Valentine's Day Hacks

1. Laser Tag

If you can find a laser tag or paintball place, and your date is not the kind to be freaked out by playing with pretend weapons, this is a fabulous date idea. You’ll be moving and you’ll get a chance to see how your date reacts under pressure. Do they play fair? Do they take it way too seriously? Can they handle you being better than them?

Bonus: You get a look at your partner’s psychology that’s more insightful than what they order at dinner.

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2. Night Skiing

If you are anywhere near a mountain that offers night skiing, it can be romantic and highly active. Since mountains that offer this usually only light up a limited amount of trails that are easier than most, this is a great way to get outside and not push anyone beyond their limits.

Bonus: There’s always an opportunity for hot chocolate (or something stronger) at the bottom of the hill.

3. Pub Crawl / Venue Crawl Treasure Map

In this day and age, you don’t need a guided crawl. Consult online maps and plot a course to various bars or events that gets in 10,000 steps. Maybe there are concerts, movies or classes along the way? Or maybe some stops are historic? It doesn’t need to be George Washington slept here-type history…local and personal history counts too.

If you are feeling extra motivated, make a hand or computer-designed map for your date. If you are really into your date, have a surprise planted at the end — like a special gift or card waiting there. Or maybe even your family/friends if you’re going to pop the question?

Crazy idea: If you and your date are both runners, wear running gear and plot a more challenging distance between stops.

4. Bike Ride

Sure, it’s not super exotic, but the benefit to this date is that many people have or can rent/borrow bikes most anywhere. If you aren’t someplace covered in snow and ice, a bike ride is a great bonding experience. Most people know how to ride a bike, and you can usually talk while riding. You can also do the pub / venue crawl via bike, just know before you go if bike racks are available on your route.

Crazy tip: See if you can get a tandem bike and take turns with who gets to go in front. They require cooperation, look ridiculous, and are a hoot and a half.

5. Ice Skating & Rollerblading

OK clearly I’m biased towards skating… but the other advantage of this active date, indoor or outdoor, is that unlike swimming or some other fitness ideas, you need no special gear other than a skate rental, and nobody has to bare lots of skin or wear a tight outfit. If there are no rinks, and you live in a climate that’s decent, rollerblades or roller skating on bike paths are also excellent choices, just make sure to wear a helmet and pads and all those other things your mom would tell you to do.

That’s it! I’m sure there are lots more offerings by you. But anything from golf to partner yoga — to indoor skydiving and trapeze classes — is a great way to experience heart-pounding adventure that will elevate the day beyond chocolate, flowers, and that dang over-priced meal.

Susie Felber

Susie is a writer, comedian, and producer who has worked in TV, film, theater, radio, video games, and online. As the daughter of a hard-working M.D., she's had a lifelong interest in health and is currently on a personal mission to "walk the walk" and get her writer's body in better shape.
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