If you’re talking transferrable skills, exercise and sex have a lot of commonalities – strength, endurance and flexibility go hand-in-hand with both activities. So it’s no surprise that the hard work you do at the gym can pay dividends between the sheets. But is training hard the best approach?
How intense training can impact your sex life
A recent study into the sexual performance of fit and active individuals suggested that upping the intensity of your training could be the secret to good sexual performance. The online survey of 6,170 physically active men and women between found a relationship between self-reported levels of exercise frequency and intensity and the likelihood of sexual dysfunction. Both men and women who exercised intensively (running at a fast pace for four hours per week) had significantly reduced odds of sexual dysfunction. “Women who were the most fit reported the least sexual dysfunction … They had the least difficulties with arousal, the least orgasm dysfunction,” said lead author Dr. Benjamin Breyer, chief of urology at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. Findings from other researchers also show that HIIT can lift total testosterone levels and boost cardiovascular capacity, which is key to sexual stamina.
But there is such a thing as too much intensity. For men, in particular, excessive intense exercise can be a dampener in the bedroom. Researchers explored the link between the intensity and duration of training and libido in men and found that ultra high-intensity workouts and excessive endurance training are significantly associated with a decreased libido. The same study showed that those who trained at “low to moderate intensities” or for fewer hours per week were more likely to report a “normal or high libido.” It’s just another reason to stick with the recommended optimal HIIT dose of just two HIIT workouts a week.
Is subdued exercise a more sustainable way to improve your sex life?
Renowned for its replenishing and restorative qualities (not to mention a wealth of other health benefits), it’s no surprise that yoga is often linked to sexual wellbeing.
A 12-week study of female yoga-camp attendees has shown yoga is an effective method for improving female sexual functions. After 12 weeks of yoga, 75 percent of the 40 participants (with an average age of 34) reported an improvement to their sex life, specifically in the areas of desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain.
Twelve weeks of yoga can also significantly improve male sexual function. During a neurologist-led study, researchers found yoga resulted in improvements in desire, intercourse satisfaction, performance, confidence, partner synchronization, erection, ejaculatory control and orgasm. Interestingly, these same researchers also found that yoga is a viable nonpharmacological alternative to fluoxetine (also known as Prozac) for treating premature ejaculation.
While yoga has traditionally been an individual practice, in recent years couples yoga has taken off. Sexual wellness experts at Loyola University explored the practice and found couples yoga may help those who are struggling with sexual dysfunction. It’s believed that couples yoga can foster new levels of trust, communication and connection, which leads to increased intimacy.
And the stress-reducing benefits of yoga cannot be ignored. Whether you’re practicing alone or with a partner, yoga is shown to ease anxiety and cut stress – which is vital for relaxation and enjoyment during sex.
The bottom line?
Whether you choose yoga, HIIT, or a well-balanced routine of cardio, strength and flexibility, any physical activity is likely to be beneficial for your sex life.
Four science-backed ways exercise will improve your sex life:
It gets your blood pumping
Raising your heart rate with cardio exercise is one of the most effective ways to stimulate blood flow throughout your body – which is fundamental for sexual response and arousal. For women, healthy blood flow stimulates lubrication as well as sensation. Healthy blood flow is also important for men, as issues such as high blood pressure and blocked arteries can lead to erectile dysfunction.
You experience more endorphins
During both exercise and sex the endorphins your body releases create instant feelings of bliss and contentment. The more frequently you experience these feelings, the easier sexual arousal becomes. A 2017 study showed women who exercise regularly become aroused faster, orgasming more quickly and more intensely.
You have more sex, especially as you age
Research suggests that the more you exercise, the more sex you have. There’s no real explanation for why this is, but perhaps it’s simply because frequent exercisers are more physically-orientated people, or because the increased strength, endurance and flexibility that comes from regular exercise makes physical activity in the bedroom more manageable. A study of the sexual activities of 60-year-old regular exercisers found that their sexual frequency and satisfaction were on par with those two decades younger. This indicates that exercise, as you age, will keep your sex life thriving and that you can keep your ‘sexual age’ low as your chronological age creeps up.
You feel sexier
Regular exercise helps you feel more confident, comfortable and sexy, which is key to having great sex. One study showed 80 percent of men and 60 percent of women who exercised two to three times weekly rated their sexual desirability as above average. The more often they exercised the more their confidence grew. Of those who exercise four to five times a week 88 percent of women and 69 percent of men rated their sexual performance as above average.
These intimate perks are certainly not the only novel benefits of regular exercise, but they are a great reminder of how a well-rounded fitness routine can improve all aspects of your life.