It’s a win-win situation: the fitter you are, the better your sex life, and the more sex you have, the fitter you’ll be.
It’s a well-known fact that exercise releases feel-good hormones called endorphins. And if you feel good about yourself, you’ll be more inclined to engage in sex. Plus, being fit improves blood circulation, sexual functioning and even fertility.
We take a closer look at the seven ways in which working out can work for you in the bedroom.
How exercise makes for better sex
“Exercise and being fitter have an impact on your sex life for a number of reasons, both physically and psychologically,” says Dr Claire Rockliffe-Fidler, clinical psychologist and psychosexual therapist.
Research shows that exercise is:
1. A boost to your self-esteem: The fitter you are, the better your self-esteem is likely to be and the more confident you’re likely to feel about yourself. This, says Rockliffe-Fidler, can add sparkle to your sex life.
2. Good for the sex organs: Exercise keeps you healthy and the healthier you are, the better your organs work – including your sexual organs. “Exercise increases blood flow and has a positive effect on muscle tension, which can greatly enhance one’s sexual pleasure,” Rockliffe-Fidler says.
The US Mayo Clinic adds that regular physical activity can lead to enhanced arousal for women. And one study found that exercise also improves genital arousal in women who take antidepressants.
3. Great in terms of agility: Fitter people tend to be more supple and agile, Rockliffe-Fidler says. This is also a bonus in the bedroom, as is the strength caused by certain exercises.
4. Keeps your weight in check: A 2012 study linked weight loss to an increase in testosterone and sex drive in middle-aged men. And we all know that regular physical activity is one of the best ways to keep your weight in check.
5. A mood enhancer: According to Rockliffe-Fidler, regular exercise has a major impact on our general mood. This, she says, enhances the likelihood of our sexual experiences being much better.
6. A boon to fertility: Hoping for a fruitful sex life? Exercise has been shown to boost sperm quality. Conversely, men who are overweight or obese (possibly as a result of exercising too little) are likely to have decreased sperm quality. Obesity is also known to decrease women’s fertility.
7. An aid for erectile dysfunction: Research has shown that exercise, particularly cardiovascular exercise (such as walking, running or cycling), may play a part in preventing erectile dysfunction (ED).
One study in particular showed that men who did the equivalent of three hours of running or more each week, or played five hours of singles tennis, had a 30% lower risk of ED compared with those who did little or no exercise.
Both cardiovascular and resistance training can be a boon to your sex life, experts say. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, five days a week. You can exercise in bouts of 10 minutes or more at a time – as long as it adds up to 30 minutes per day.
Of course, being fitter and having better sex doesn’t necessarily make for a better relationship. “But the overall knock-on effect of exercise and being fit will have an impact on your sex life,” Rockliffe-Fidler concludes.