How Exercise Makes Sex Better

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We all know that exercise is good for you—it keeps your heart healthy and adds years to your life. But exercise does something else—it makes your sex life better. By exercising several times a week, you'll not only be increasing your health but improving your sex life. Sound good? Find out more.

Exercise Makes You Feel Sexy

A big part of sex is feeling sexy. People who exercise have an improved body image over people who do not exercise. Being more comfortable with your body leads to better and more relaxed sex. A study showed that more physically fit men and women rated their own sexual desirability higher than less active men and women the same age. Eighty percent of men and 60% of females who exercised two to three times weekly rated their own sexual desirability as above average. As the number of days of exercise per week increased, so did the ratings of sexual desirability.

Exercise Improves Sexual Performance

Another study showed that men and women who were more physically fit rated their own sexual performance higher. Among people who exercised four to five days per week, 88% of the women and 69% of the men reported their own sexual performance as above average or much above average. The reason for this could simply be an increase in confidence because of an improved body image, or a physiological reason (such as better circulation and blood flow).

Exercise Means More Sex

People who exercise more have more sex. The reason for this is complicated. People who exercise more are generally healthier, younger and have more attractive bodies than the non-exercisers. Frequent exercisers may also be more physically-oriented people who seek out activities and sensations. Whatever the case, research does show that the more a person exercises, the more sex he or she tends to have.

Exercise Helps Sexual Aging

Sixty-year-olds who exercise frequently report having the same amount of sex and sexual pleasure as people decades younger. One study examined the sexual frequency and satisfaction ratings of swimmers aged 60 and found that they were the same as those 20 years younger. If you exercise a lot, your “sexual age” will be years younger than your chronological age.

Reduces Erectile Dysfunction

There is a saying in the erectile dysfunction world that “penis health is heart health.” Erectile dysfunction is often caused by circulatory problems. In order to have an erection, the penis must swell with blood. Blocked arteries, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular issues can interfere with that process. Exercise keeps the heart and arteries healthy, reducing the risk of erectile dysfunction. Researchers looked at men over the age of 50 and found that those who were physically active reported better erections and a 30% lower risk of impotence than men who were inactive.

Endorphin Release

Exercise releases endorphins that give a feeling of pleasure. The classic “runner’s high” is an example. In a “runner's high," a seasoned runner may experience a feeling of bliss and contentment during exercise caused by a release of endorphins. Your sex drive and feelings of sexual pleasure also use an endorphin release system. Each time you exercise (or have sex), your body releases these endorphins. The more frequent and intense the releases, the easier it is for sexual arousal and pleasure in the future. In fact, studies have shown that women who frequently exercise become aroused more quickly and are able to reach an orgasm faster and more intensely.

Exercise Adds Options

If you are physically fit, you may have more options for sex. Sex itself is an intense physical activity requiring strength and endurance. As you exercise, both your strength and endurance will increase, opening the possibility for more varied sexual positions that require greater physical control.

The Bottom Line

If better health isn’t enough motivation to get you to the gym or out for a run, maybe better sex will be. Use the information here to inspire yourself to increase your fitness and just watch what may happen to your sex life.

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Article Sources
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  1. Penhollow T, Young m. Sexual Desirability and Sexual Performance: Does Exercise and Fitness Really Matter? INT: Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality. Oct 2004;Vol 7.

  2. Jiannine L. An investigation of the relationship between physical fitness, self-concept, and sexual functioningJ Educ Health Promot. 2018;7(1):57. doi:10.4103/jehp.jehp_157_17

  3. Krucoff C, Krucoff M. Peak performance. American Fitness. 2000;19,32-36.

  4. Bacon C, Mittleman M, Kawachi I, Giovannucci E, Glasser D, Rimm E. Sexual Function in Men Older Than 50 Years of Age: Results from the Health Professionals Follow-up StudyAnn Intern Med. 2003;139(3):161. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-139-3-200308050-00005

Additional Reading
  • Bacon, C. G., Mittleman, M. A., & Kawachi, I. (2003). Sexual Function in Men Older Than 50 Years of Age: Results From the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Annals of Internal Medicine, 139, 161-168.

  • Krucoff, C., & Krucoff, M. (2000). Peak Performance. American Fitness, 19, 32-36.

  • Ronald W. Lewis MD, Kersten S. Fugl-Meyer Ph.D., R. Bosch MD, Axel R. Fugl-Meyer Ph.D., Edward O. Laumann Ph.D., E. Lizza MD, Antonio Martin-Morales MD (2004) Epidemiology/Risk Factors of Sexual Dysfunction. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Volume 1, Number 1, July 2004, pp. 35-39(5).

  • Katherine Esposito, MD; Francesco Giugliano, MD; Carmen Di Palo, MD; Giovanni Giugliano, MD; Raffaele Marfella, MD, PhD; Francesco D'Andrea, MD; Massimo D'Armiento, MD; Dario Giugliano, MD, PhD. Effect of Lifestyle Changes on Erectile Dysfunction in Obese Men. JAMA. 2004;291:2978-2984.