Americans don’t like to exercise. One recent study estimated that nearly 80 percent of adult Americans fall short of the recommended amount of exercise each week.
That’s too bad, because there are so many ways in which regular exercise can improve your life, including your sex life.
Whether you are young, middle aged, or old, I hope I can inspire you to tweak the way you organize your life — for better health in general, and to improve your performance in the bedroom.
The wonderful late British author Alex Comfort, M.D., who authored the bestselling book The Joy of Sex, reportedly quipped that the reason older people stop having sex is the same reason that they stop riding bicycles: They aren’t fit enough.
Studies show that in every single way imaginable, exercising helps sexuality. Recent studies show that Americans who exercise 30 minutes a day feel better about their appearance, which is a huge boost in sexual motivation to be sexual.
Sexologists have long known that body image mediates sex drive, especially in women. We’re bombarded daily with images of movie stars with perfect bodies, but that’s not the point.
Many of us are smart enough to know that celebrities must look good, because it’s their bread and butter. But it can be challenging to get naked with another person when we are ashamed or disgusted by our bodies.
I always tell clients that a lot of the pleasure that comes with sex depends on being embodied — that is, being in the moment and enjoying the sense of touch. A body that is overweight or imperfect is just as capable of feeling pleasure as a “perfect” body.
But people do tend to do what sex therapists call “spectatoring” — getting out of the moment and judging their performance. This is not a good thing to do, but it’s normal.So it’s better to feel good about how you look.
There is a golden mean when it comes to assessing our bodies. You might not look like Ryan Reynolds or Angelina Jolie, but you don’t have to. But it helps a lot to be the best you that you can be at your current age.
Regular exercise changes the way we feel about our bodies. It changes how competent we feel in our bodies, and it changes how good and healthy our body looks to us.
Once you can look at yourself in the mirror and feel some pride, or you can imagine someone else enjoying looking at your body, your sexual inhibition goes down and your sexual motivation can go up.
Another way exercise helps motivate us sexually is that it alleviates stress — which can be a huge turn-off. For many men and women of all ages, stress diminishes sex drive. We just aren’t that interested when we are obsessed about finances, jobs, kids, health, or even neurotic worries that don’t make sense.
The hormones produced from exercise make us feel happier and lessen our stress. Studies have shown that even 15 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise can boost positive emotions. This might be because physical activity causes your brain to produce serotonin and norepinephrine — those feel-good chemicals whose levels are increased by some of the antidepressants.
Exercise also contributes to a better night’s sleep, and leepy people are not that interested in sex, as you may know.
There are specific benefits to specific kinds of exercise. For men, weight lifting causes the body to produce testosterone, which boosts sex drive and contributes to feelings of strength.
The research on women, exercise and sex also show that exercise leads to higher sex drive and better sexual function. Cardio is good. Strength training gets women the biggest benefits.
The bottom line, of course, is to find a way to exercise regularly.If you live in a mild climate, you could walk or ride some of the places you drive. There are inexpensive gyms in many places in the U.S..
You don’t need fancy exercise clothes, and you don’t need a fancy gym. If you tell yourself that you’re too out of shape to go to a gym, give yourself an attitude adjustment.
That kind of thinking is self-defeating.
Just try it. You might like it.
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