With the exception of minor things like a two-front war, out-of-control healthcare costs, crumbling infrastructure, a nasty addiction to dwindling fossil fuels and a somewhat less sanguine global outlook*, the biggest problems most Americans face are obesity and a cash crunch.
Every week or so, this space throws out a fun relationship suggestion that's easy on the wallet. This time around, it's exercise.
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First of all, exercise is a virtual panacea. Per research that I have no way of substantiating, sedentary lifestyles cause more deaths than smoking. A little exercise (say, sweating 3 times per week for 20-30 minutes per session) can have immediate results. Old wisdom says you feel the results (in terms of increased energy, decreased lethargy) in weeks and see results (if you're looking at my gut, I'm working on it) in a month.
"How does this make dating more awesome?" Good question, Aguado. Many therapists (of all specialties) refuse to see clients unless they agree to begin a regular exercise regimen. The chemo-emotional aspect is well documented (endorphins and whatnot) and the effects of even a small physical transformation are impossible to miss. Looking good and feeling good go a long way towards making stuff works, relationships-wise (this despite the sad-sack efforts of sensitive 90s guys and haughtiness of haven't-had-carbs-since-2004 d-bags). Read: The Joy of Flex: Exercise Better Together
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"OK, but how do I do this as a date?" Good question, iguana. While going to the gym as an early date (or, heaven forbid, meeting there) is a little uncomfortable (especially if one of you is a grunter); there are other ways to exercise. A walk-jog through a scenic area is pretty dope, especially if you can keep a pace that allows you to talk (I guess if you're in DC you just have to observe how beautiful the cherry blossoms are). It gets a little trickier if you're not into jogging but you can substitute swimming, ice-skating or ball sports (weather-permitting)**, if you want to keep it free.
"What if I don't like outdoor stuff?" Good question, Iguodala. Options multiply like mogwai in a downpour if you're willing to spend a little money. Almost every city has a subsidized gym or community center (or a YMCA). Memberships there are free or incredibly cheap (belonging to New York City's Parks & Rec costs $75 per year, with Olympic pools and ping pong). Read: Dating, Adventurist Style