Feature Archive

Better Shape for Better Sex

Exercise might help maximize your pleasure in the bedroom.

WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith

Gush on and on about the usual benefits of regular exercise -- helping to keep blood pressure at normal levels, weight control, and overall well-being -- and before long even the dedicated exercisers within earshot will be stifling yawns.

But drop just a hint about how regular workouts can improve life in the bedroom, and you've got the attention of even the most stubborn couch spuds.

So is it true? If you're in good physical shape from months or years of regular workouts, does it really mean you'll have better sex?

The Workout-Sex Connection

Richard Cotton, an exercise physiologist and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise in San Diego, Calif., can't point to any particular scientific study that tracked gym visits and nights of romance. But he says the link between exercise and sex makes perfect sense.

Here's why. There are three primary components of fitness, he says: "Endurance, strength, and flexibility. If you are in shape, you have more aerobic endurance, muscular strength, and overall flexibility -- all of which can aid a person during sex. Not to mention, if you are in shape you will reduce your risk of injury during sex -- such as pulling a muscle."

Study after study has shown that people who are physically fit are less likely to let stress bother them. A study published in November 1999 in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that college students who exercised regularly were better able than their non-exercising classmates to take life's daily stresses in stride. If you rarely feel stressed out, it follows that you'll rarely be too cranky for sex. And when you're less stressed, you can be much more focused on improving your sex life.

People who are out of shape are often less motivated to have sex. They tend to tire more easily, and have a lower sex drive and less stamina than folks who work out.

Other Perks

Exercise can also have profound effects on your mind, improving your feeling of well-being. And when you're feeling happy, you're feeling sexy. There's also the extra benefit that when your mood's elevated, your optimistic outlook will translate into bedroom satisfaction.

Breath control is an important part of good sex, and that, too, is built up by regular exercise. More generally, the discipline of exercising on a regular basis helps a person feel in control of his or her life -- both the passions and the daily grind.

Getting Started

To reap all these benefits, of course, you've got to be a consistent exerciser. So pick an activity you enjoy and that you can do on a regular basis. Then stick with it. As you begin to see the results of your fitness efforts, you'll start to feel good about yourself. Exercise not only makes the body more fit for sex but also stimulates the mind and makes you feel sexier.

Originally published Dec. 17, 1999.

Medically updated May 16, 2003.

©1996-2005 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.
Last Editorial Review: 1/30/2005 10:43:26 PM




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