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:
1Regular Exercise Can Boost Low Libido In Women
Exercise can be the cure for many ailments — low sex drive included. Researchers at UT Austin asked female study participants who reported sexual side effects from antidepressants to up their exercise routines to see how physical activity might impact their low libidos. In the 52 subjects they studied, a regular exercise routine was found to increase orgasm capacity in all women, and, in particular, 30 minutes of strength training and cardio just before sex was shown to reduce the effect of libido-dulling drugs.
2Strenuous Exercise Can Lower Libido In Men
Yes, exercise can prep you for sex — but not if you overdo it. According to a survey of 1,100 men by UNC Chapel Hill researchers, those who worked out strenuously had a lowered interest in sex afterwards. A less intense workout correlated with a higher libido, however, which makes sense since we're not talking about sex robots, but human men who have limited amounts of energy. So when in doubt, dudes, leave the gym a little early if you want to break a sweat with someone special.
3Lifting Weights Increases Sex Hormones
Pumping iron not only makes you strong AF, but releases a rush of adrenaline, endorphins, and, most importantly, testosterone, which is one hormone responsible for making you extra amped. Cardio is awesome and very good for your health, but it doesn't have quite the same impact that lifting weights can have on your sex drive.
4Exercise Enhances Sexual Endurance
Languishing in a long session might by the goal for many folks, but it's harder to do if you're not in peak condition. Getting physical on the regs ups your stamina and increases muscle strength so you can prop yourself up in all kinds of crazy positions (if that's your thing) and not tire yourself out too early. There's even a workout designed specifically for improving sex, if you really want to get serious about it.
5Yoga Can Improve Your Orgasms
Yoga requires the use of nearly every single muscle in the body, and this includes the muscles that impact your orgasms. Many of the balancing poses that require supporting your body weight work out as the equivalent of doing 10-40 minutes of kegel exercises, which results in longer, stronger orgasms.
The bottom line? Hitting the gym or the yoga studio is definitely a gateway drug to better times when you hit it in the bedroom and beyond.