Fitness is that universal variable present in every single equation that governs life. It helps in maintaining the musculoskeletal balance, building physical strength and endurance, ensuring mental well-being, and keeping common diseases and health conditions like diabetes and obesity-related cancers away. Naturally, holistic and regular exercises and ensuring physical and mental wellness are beneficial for a better sex life as well.
The connection of physical health and fitness to a person’s sex life is straightforward yet intricate. A sound body and mind help avoid or reduce the risk of certain sexual dysfunctions in both men and women. Of course, this connection is governed by many complex and interconnected processes, including physiological, endocrinal, and neural. Together, they make sexual health a more complex state of being. Sex, after all, is not just about the concerned organs and reproduction.
Exercising helps avoid sexual dysfunction
Nowadays, obesity-related sexual issues are on the rise, which can lead to a variety of sexual problems. Good physical and mental health is key to maintaining a healthy sex life. “Exercising regularly improves your cardiovascular health and enhances blood flow throughout the body, including the genitals,” explains Dr Mohammed Shahid Ali, consultant – urology, andrology, robotic surgery and renal transplantation, Manipal Hospitals, Bengaluru. “Good blood flow is very crucial for achieving and maintaining erections in men, and for arousal and lubrication in women.” Exercising reduces erectile dysfunction in men and increases the reproductive health functions of women with PCOS as well.
Further, working out enhances the quality of people’s sleep. The lack of good sleep, on the other hand, can result in higher stress levels, which results in sexual dysfunction. Sufficient sleep positively affects libido and sex.
The link between exercises, hormones, and libido
A sedentary lifestyle impacts libido. An unbalanced hormone profile also lowers the sex drive. Exercise can help achieve a balanced hormone profile and reduce stress, which is directly linked to libido, say experts. “Working out results in increased testosterone, which can have a positive impact on sexual health,” says Dr Munazir Akheel, a sexologist from Medi Life Healthcare, Bengaluru. “In men, it can lead to improved libido and erectile function, while in women, it can enhance sexual desire and responsiveness.” Dr Ali adds, “Increased estrogen levels in women boost energy levels and vitality, leading to a positive influence on sexual activity.”
Moreover, exercising and ample physical activity lead to the increased secretion of endorphins, the happy hormones. “The release of endorphins during exercise can boost mental wellness, reduce stress, and improve mood, all of which contribute to increased libido and better sexual activity,” explains Dr Akheel. “A positive mental state can enhance the overall sexual experience.”
Exercising can make you last longer in bed
The physical demands of sexual intercourse — from the energy or calorie requirements (yes, it is an efficient calorie burner!) to physical stamina and endurance — are quite real. And while you don’t have to prepare for it like you do for a marathon, workouts and certain exercises do help.
“Strengthening the core, pelvic floor, and leg muscles through exercises can lead to better sex by providing better stability and control during intercourse,” says Dr Akheel. “It can lead to more intense and pleasurable experiences for both partners.”
Dr Ali adds, “Along with the core, strengthening muscles in the back, chest, arms and peripheral muscles such as glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings contribute to better sexual activity. They help in maintaining various sexual positions and staying engaged without getting fatigued for longer.”
Stretching exercises, which improve flexibility and mobility are important, too.
“However, doing excessive exercises or overtraining can cause muscle fatigue, which may lead to muscle and ligament injuries. Both these can impact intercourse indirectly, contributing to sexual dysfunction,” says Dr Ali.
Exercises for better sex
Several aspects contribute to better sexual function. Hence, while trying to enhance the quality of one’s sex life through exercise, the aim is to address these factors.
“Exercises such as running, swimming, and cycling improve your cardiovascular health while increasing blood flow and stamina. Thus, it enhances sexual desire and performance,” shares Dr Ali.
Building up muscles and strengthening the core is also crucial. “Core-strengthening exercises like squats, planks, and back exercises increase your endurance and comfort during sex,” adds Dr Ali.
Moreover, a strong pelvic floor is linked to increased arousal and greater sensitivity during sex. Kegel exercises are a group of pelvic floor exercises specifically targeted at strengthening these muscles. “They stabilize the genitals. Doing these exercises regularly improves blood flow and leads to better erectile function in men. In women, it can lead to a better control over pelvic muscles, and sometimes contribute to a potentially stronger orgasm,” says Dr Ali.
Dr Akheel adds, “Activities that promote relaxation, such as meditation, mindfulness, and yoga that help in stress reduction and [physical] flexibility can also benefit sexual health.”
Does physical appearance matter?
Are looks and physical appearance a factor in sexual health? If one is dissatisfied with one’s appearance, it can lead to depression and dissatisfaction in romantic relationships, resulting in reduced sexual satisfaction.
“Working out regularly can improve self-esteem and body image,” says Dr Akheel. “Feeling good about one’s body can lead to increased sexual confidence and desirability, which can improve overall sexual satisfaction.”
- To have better sex and enjoy intimacy, it is mandatory to have good physical and mental health, which can be achieved through regular exercise.
- Exercise helps one have a balanced hormone profile while reducing stress, which is crucial in enhancing libido.
- One can do different exercises to enhance sexual health. These include running, swimming, and cycling to improve cardiovascular health. Squats and planks can increase core strength. Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. All these exercises improve sexual activity by providing better stability and control during intercourse.