Exercise is great for increasing energy levels, improving mental clarity and supporting our overall health and well-being, but what about its benefits in the bedroom? This week, Exercise Right is discussing the taboo topic of sex and exercise, and the beneficial role exercise can play for our sexual performance, sexual functions and for our relationships.
It makes sense that being physically fitter can be an advantage when you're getting physical in the bedroom, but studies have shown that frequent exercise can also enhance sexual performance. Other research has also demonstrated a strong correlation between exercise and overall sexual satisfaction among healthy adults.
"In general, for better performance (in the bedroom or otherwise), research shows that frequent aerobic exercise and intense strength training are the most beneficial. Aerobic exercise can be anything that gets your heart rate going including walking, running or swimming," explains Beth Sheehan Accredited Exercise Physiologist and ESSA Practice Innovation Advisor.
"Suitable strength training includes using resistance to burn calories and build muscle, such as lifting free weights, kettlebells or using weight machines at a gym or using your own body weight for exercises like push ups."
Sexual function, or dysfunction, can also be improved by exercise. Research into pelvic floor exercises in women with pelvic pain, for instance, has shown they improve sexual function. Women reported increased control, confidence, heightened sensation and less pain. While in men, exercises that train the perineal muscles help with premature ejaculation.
When we look at the reverse effects, sex certainly offers more physical health benefits than just burning calories (4.2 calories per minute for men and 3.1 calories per minute for women), it also:
Boosts brain power
Decreases risk of heart disease
Can even make us look younger!
Not only can sex provide physical health benefits, it can also promote positive mental health too. There is evidence that being physically and emotionally close with a partner can lower stress levels due to releasing all kinds of chemicals in the brain such as dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin. There's also evidence suggesting regular sex lowers stress-related blood pressure.
Although sex offers a range of physical and mental health benefits, there are also a range of other ways to be active in your relationship, and improve your health, outside of the bedroom.
"Whatever your motivation to move and engage in regular exercise may be, physical activity comes with significant benefits that will improve your life outside of your bedroom. In fact, research tells us that if you engage in an exercise program with your partner, you're more likely to stick to it," says Ms Sheehan.
Time to involve some exercise in to date night!
Exercise Right's tips for active dates with your partner:
Take a Hike – literally. Grab your loved one and head into the great outdoors! You'll have plenty of time to chat along the way, all while taking in the sweeping views, fresh air, and sunshine. Also, it's an awesome workout!
Go Dancing – Whether you head to a concert and jump around in the front row, take a salsa class, or just spin each other around your living room, dancing is the perfect mix of active and intimate. Go on, give it a go.
Hit the Water – There's something a bit romantic about being out on the water. Whether it's kayaking, canoeing or stand up paddle-boarding, water sports are a great way to get an awesome upper body workout while having some fun together.
Go for a Ride – Cycling is a great workout, and even though no one looks cute in a helmet, it's a fantastic "couples" activity. Pack a picnic and take a ride somewhere scenic!
Ice-Skating – It's the perfect activity for a little winter romance. Rug up, slip on some skates, cling (perhaps somewhat desperately) to your loved one, and hit the ice. If it's your first time, it might be trickier than you imagined, but hey – you're in it together.
Rock Climbing – The physical benefits of rock climbing are seemingly endless. Strength, coordination, endurance, agility – do we need to go on? It's also a great challenge to take on as a couple and is sure to leave you both totally spent.
Visit the Exercise Right website for more information on exercise and sex.