Testing your physical boundaries to catch an elusive, euphoric high is one shared goal of the world's most popular activities: exercise and sex. Although both can lengthen your lifespan and completely transform your body, they also carry a ton of cultural baggage that can be trying to contend with.
It's difficult to say whether there are more prescriptions regarding sex or exercise in American culture. You're judged by how much you do it, or if you don't do it at all. You're judged by the kind of sex and exercise you partake in (kinky or vanilla, pilates or kickboxing), and there's a non-stop stream of health professionals lecturing us on why we're doing it wrong and how we can do it better.
And of course there's the important differences between the two pastimes. Feeling the burn post-exercise? Fantastic. Feeling the burn post-sex? A really good reason to visit your local clinic. There's also the matter of your focus mid-session. When working out, it should be about you and you alone — it's not a competition. When having sex with a partner, however, it does matter what someone else is thinking and feeling, although competition shouldn't really be the goal there, either.
Here's what science has to say about the links between these two life-giving activities: