People give many reasons for not wanting to exercise -- lack of time, lack of access to facilities, lack of motivation, and lack of energy are just some. But here's something that might motivate people to give it a try: Exercising – when done right – can benefit a person even in the bedroom.
The World Health Organization defines sexual health as the state of physical, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality. While talking about it is enough to make anyone blush, scientists are none too shy when it comes to exploring how exercise can improve sexual health.
Psychologists from the University of Texas at Austin found a positive link between exercise and sexual function. In an article published in Sexual Medicine Reviews, they reported that long-term exercise regimens greatly improved sexual satisfaction in women by preserving autonomic flexibility, which is linked to psychological and social well-being. The exercises also helped improve their body image, and consequently increased their sexual well-being. In addition, the team found that exercise helped restore sexual function in women who have undergone hysterectomies.
But it's not just women who can benefit in the bedroom from physical activities such as exercise. A landmark study by a team from the University of California, San Diego revealed that men with sedentary lifestyles who exercised for nine months significantly enhanced their sexual health. In another study, which appeared in the journal Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases, Australian researchers concluded that regular exercise can maintain sexual activity, even in patients who are undergoing cancer treatment.
The bottom line: An active lifestyle is a great way to fire up libido. But which exercises are great at it?
Kegel exercises – also referred to as pelvic floor muscle exercises – are designed to improve a person's sexual health and pleasure. These exercises are often associated with women, given that they require the correct contraction of their pelvic floor muscles. However, men can also benefit from Kegel exercises, as these help with bladder control and sexual performance.
This form of exercise, which started in Ancient India, is known for its ability to relieve stress, something no couple wants to feel when they're intimate. Studies have shown that elevated levels of stress can have adverse effects on the body, such as diminished libido.
“Yoga teaches you how to listen to your body, and how to control your mind,” explained Tennessee-based yoga instructor Lauren Zoeller. “A regular yoga practice brings you into the awareness of the present moment which is very important when looking to boost your sex life.”
According to Anna Cabeca, an osteopathic expert, this quick-and-brutal workout can increase testosterone levels and growth hormones, which are both linked to increased sexual drive.
An interesting study looked at whether HIIT can improve testosterone levels in sedentary men. Researchers found that men who followed an 18-week HIIT regimen had higher levels of testosterone. (Related: HIIT that belly: High intensity workouts reduce belly fat faster than continuous exercise.)
Here's a HIIT workout that you can do in as little as six minutes.
Learn more ways to improve your sexual health at Health.news.