8 WAYS THE GYM CAN IMPROVE YOUR SEX LIFE
Exercise + sex = happier you
By Cindy Kuzma
There are many parallels between the gym and your sex life. Think about it. The sweat, the flexing, aching muscles, the grunting…
In fact, regular exercise may play a more important role in sexual satisfaction than many other factors, including stress, weight and even your current relationship status (or lack thereof).
It makes sense, then, that taking charge in the gym can lead to surprising benefits in the bedroom, and vice versa. In case you don’t believe us, here are eight scientifically verified ways in which your workout can benefit your sex life.
1/ SHARPEN YOUR FOCUS
He's giving you his best moves, but you're thinking about tomorrow’s to-do list.
Exercise can help sync your mind to your body, as well as quiet your racing brain so you can focus on the task in hand, says Dr. Lori Brotto director of the Sexual Health Laboratory at the University of British Columbia.
‘If you find your mind slipping, concentrate on the air coming into your body and going out for three to four breaths,’ says Anne-Charlotte Desruelle, Director of sensual emporium Soft Paris (like the Avon of sex toys). Then get back to thinking about the washing up.
2/ FAST TRACKS YOUR ORGASM
Studies have shown that women who frequently exercise become aroused more quickly and are able to orgasm faster and more intensely.
The researchers at the University of Texas found that female study participants were 169% more aroused while watching a short porn flick after 20 minutes of vigorous cycling than when they watched it without riding beforehand (and no, it was nothing to do with the saddle placement).
Cardiovascular exercise helps blood pump faster, and when you get excited, blood surges into the clitoral bulbs, making the entire region around the vagina responsive to pleasure.
‘Resistance training is proven to increase testosterone in women, vital for maintaining arousal and libido,’ says sexual coach Dr. Lisa Turner. ‘Dancing is another must-try.’ So if you’re planning on bumping uglies, make sure you do your weight training the same day.
3/ HIT THE SPOT WITH HIIT
High-intensity interval training is one quick way to increase lung capacity, or try the 1:2 Pranayama yoga breathing technique.
Lie on your back, knees bent and take a few deep breaths. Then start increasing the length of your exhalation till it is double your inhalation breath. Aim for 4 seconds in, 8 seconds out. Do this every day for 5 minutes with your partner to master tandem breathing. Enya soundtrack, optional.
4/ PUMPS UP YOUR LIBIDO
Some women can take 12 minutes--or longer--to orgasm. If your body fizzles out prior to that, you may be missing out, says sex therapist Denise Onofrey.
During a single resistance-focused workout (that’s TRX, weights and reformer Pilates) your body produces higher levels of growth hormone and testosterone, hormones that play a pivotal role in muscle growth--and sex drive.
A 2013 study found that hitting the weight room regularly (three days a week) keeps levels of these hormones higher. That, along with the stress-busting benefits of pumping iron, can stoke greater sexual desire, says Kim Chronister, author of The Psychology Behind Fitness Motivation.
For even more potent results, add tuna steak to your post-gym romantic dinner: its vitamin D content bolsters testosterone by up to 90%, found a study at Graz Medical University, Austria, slashing levels of libido-killing chemical Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG). Try saying that with your mouth full of sashimi.
5/ INCREASES YOUR ENDURANCE
Regular physical activity improves stamina and trains your muscles to hold out longer by using energy more efficiently. The result? You won't have to pause prematurely to give your aching arms or tired legs a break during your next epic sex session.
Try adding two sets of 8 barbell squats and kettlebell lunges to your workout to strengthen your glutes, quads, hamstrings and biceps which will take the brunt of the work in most common sexual endeavors.
6/ RE-SETS YOUR BODY IMAGE
Exercise transforms the way you view your body--and how you enjoy sex too. Professor Penhollow found that women who exercised frequently were more likely to rate their desirability and sexual performance high above average.
And that applied to women of all sizes, who reported greater body appreciation (for their physical abilities, such as progress in the gym) were more easily aroused, enjoyed sex more, and had more orgasms.
If they put that on the Spinning class timetable, more people would go.
7/ SHED INHIBITIONS
When Italian researchers put a small group of obese women with sexual complaints in a supervised weight-loss program (that included diet and about 10 hours of low-intensity exercise per week), they not only lost an average of 35 pounds but also reported higher levels of lubrication and sexual frequency after 16 weeks.
The study authors believe that weight loss does more than improve body image: It also helps improve insulin resistance. Overweight women whose bodies can't use the hormone to process glucose also tend to have lower levels of testosterone, which dampens self-confidence and sexual response.
‘Remember, cortisol, the stress hormone blocks the positive effects of testosterone,’ says Desruelle. Your best bet is to find a PT to devise you a regular weight lifting routine. Research by the University of Bristol shows this decreases cortisol levels and boosts productivity – providing you don’t drop a barbell on your foot, of course.
8/ HEIGHTEN SENSITIVITY
We don't mean sobbing mid coitus. The tissue that forms the clitoris contains 8,000 nerve fibers that extend into the entire pelvic region, including the vaginal walls. Researchers at the University of Texas found that physical activity primes us for sex by making us more sensitive to touch.
Exercise also increases the effect of stimuli, by revving up a network of neurons which controls your arousal. For an added boost without the exercise burnout, try Indecente cream (£30, softparis.com). ‘it’s our best selling product for a reason,’ says Desruelle. ‘It increases sensation and blood flow to the clitoris when applied directly – it’s like foreplay, in a cream.’