Why getting fit amps up your sex life

The fitter you are, the better the sex - and the more sex you have, the fitter you will get.

It's well known that exercise releases those feel-good hormones called endorphins. And the better you feel about yourself, the more inclined towards sex you will be. On the physical side of things, being fit improves one's libido, blood circulation and sexual functioning. So it really is a win-win situation.

Read: Fat men have bad sex

All in the head
Many believe that the brain could be the most important sexual organ in the body. Therefore, it stands to reason that the more stressed, anxious and depressed people are, the less likely they are to have a healthy, fulfilling sex life.

Fortunately, regular exercise can combat stress, so the more you exercise, the less stressed you will be. And the less stressed you are, the better your chances of having a good sex life become.

At the same time, the more you exercise, the better you feel about yourself, the fitter you are and the more confident you will become with your body. All this bodes well for a very healthy sex life.

What the experts say
"I definitely think that exercise and being fitter have an impact on your sex life for a number of reasons, physically and psychologically," says Dr Claire Rockliffe-Fidler, clinical psychologist, psychosexual therapist.

Firstly, the fitter you are, the better your self-esteem is likely to be and the more confident you're likely to feel about yourself. And the more you exercise and the fitter you get, the better you should feel about yourself. This, says Rockliffe-Fidler, goes a long way in the bedroom.

Secondly, apart from how exercise and being fit changes your physical appearance, it's what's on the inside that really counts. The healthier you are, the better your organs work – including your sexual organs.

Read: Exercise boosts sperm count

"Exercise also increases blood flow and has a positive effect on muscle tension, which can greatly enhance one's sexual pleasure," Rockliffe-Fidler adds. "Fitter people tend to be slightly more supple and agile, which is also a bonus in the bedroom, as is the strength that comes from certain exercises."

And lastly, Rockliffe-Fidler says that regular exercise has a better impact on one's general mood. This, she says, "enhances the likelihood of the sexual experience being much better."

She does, however, point out that being fitter and having better sex doesn't necessarily make for a better relationship. "But the overall knock-on effect of exercise and being fit will have an impact on your sex life."

Dr Ross Tucker, Health24's FitnessDoc agrees that the fitter you are, the more likely you are to have better sex. Yet he notes that there isn't too much scientific proof to test this theory.

Fat affects fertility
And for those who are hoping for a fruitful sex life as well, exercise has been shown to boost sperm quality. Conversely, men who are overweight or obese are likely to have decreased sperm quality. The study also pointed out that obesity is known to decrease women's fertility.

Other studies have also shown that exercise, particularly cardiovascular exercise (such as walking, running or cycling), may play a part in preventing erectile dysfunction (ED). One study in particular showed that men who did the equivalent of three hours of running or more each week, or played five hours of singles tennis, reported a 30% lower risk of ED, compared with those who did little or no exercise.

Sex in your 80s
If the fact that exercise can improve your sex life isn't enough to convince you, research has also shown that healthy people can have reasonably satisfying sexual health well into their 80s.

The study, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, showed that "sexual health is a harbinger of physical and mental health, and it plays an important role in the quality of life".

The researchers concluded that "if you're healthy, you can be sexually active. Don't assume that because you're older, your sex life has to be gone. If you're healthy and connected to someone, and you've had a pretty good sex life when you were younger, then you can have a pretty good sex life in old age".

Sources: Health24, HealthDay News, Sapa, Reuters Health

Read more:
Great SA sex survey
Sex is good for you

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24