Or so the researchers would have us believe, but is it true?
I read an interesting article the other day about how exercise (and particularly regular exercise) is apparently good for men and can even improve their sex life.
This is something of a perennial topic in the fitness world and there is indeed a certain amount of evidence which suggests regular physical exercise can improve energy levels, flexibility and sexual activity for both men and women. The reasons for this are pretty obvious; having more energy and confidence from regular exercise is a strong motivator for enjoying a close physical relationship.
As the article, by Eleanor Steafel in The Telegraph points out, high-intensity workouts were already known to help improve mood and weight loss, as well as heart health more generally. The argument made in Steafel’s article is that more evidence is now emerging that suggests it can also have a positive effect on libido.
Steafel writes about how German researchers have apparently discovered that men who undertake as little as three minutes of strength exercise will be far more responsive to sexual stimuli afterwards.
According to the researchers quoted in the article, a small amount of exertion is enough to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, which results in raised heart rate rise, an increase in blood pressure and dilation of the pupils.
Do these physical sensations sound familiar?
The researchers, from the German University of Siegen and the University of Trier, found that men who exerted energy for three minutes then experienced a faster heart rate and pupil dilation as mentioned above when shown sexual images (as compared to men who expended very little energy).
Does this sound unusual to you?
The researchers argue on the back of this that there is “strong evidence” that acute stress exposure in men leads to the “enhancement of sexual processing”, or “arousability” as it is more widely known.
The researchers go on to suggest that a short burst of exercise will give you an elevated heart rate and quicken your breathing whilst avoiding exhaustion, which mirrors the physical response experienced when aroused, and which can lead to a greater-than-usual reaction to sexual stimuli.
Increasingly, physical activity is also argued to have a wider range of benefits for men and their sexual health, according to Professor Smith. He has even published a study which found that small amounts of exercise are an effective therapeutic intervention in treating premature ejaculation.
Smith cites a study which found that moderate running for 30 minutes, five days per week, can be “just as effective in reducing premature ejaculation as dapoxetine, [which is a drug used to treat premature ejaculation]”.
On top of that there are the inevitable “endocrine factors” which are likely to have a short-term impact on mood and therefore libido, Professor Smith argues, as exercise helps to release feel-good hormones such as oxytocin and dopamine.
On top of these endorphins, Dr Ali Novitsky, founder of Exercising Intimacy, a programme which encourages connection between partners via exercise and sex, argues that men are likely to find themselves in an improved “state of mindfulness,” as a result of exercise. If maintained, Novitsky suggests that over time men could even see an increase in testosterone levels which will be another “driver” for their libido.
Dr Novitsky advocates exercise that will see the heart rate rise and fall, such as power-walking for 30 seconds, then walking normally for 30 seconds (and repeated).
Whether or not exercise is helpful (particularly to men) in having more energetic sex lives is for every man who exercises regularly to decide. There is something of a popular myth that those who work in the fitness industry have exciting love lives, though in my experience as with most things, this perception is a little overblown.
What I would say is that putting the sex angle aside for a moment, regular exercise is beneficial for those who follow a fitness lifestyle for a whole number of reasons beyond the body physical. In my experience, regular exercise sharpens the mind and increases energy levels, as well as confidence. When you feel more able and alive, your outlook on life and what you are doing with it improves.
It also broadens the horizon of the person who so exercises.
Being physically able and mentally engaged (which is part of the fitness lifestyle) changes how we engage with the world around us and what we choose to do in it.
A sedentary lifestyle, restricted to certain physical locations (I’m thinking of the workplace, sofa and bed here) is limiting and rehabilitating. Engaging fully in the adventure of life and the world around us is far more rewarding, though it does, in my opinion, require an agile mind and a strong body.
Regardless of what Cupid has in store for us once we have embraced such a fitness lifestyle, a world of opportunity is waiting.
Exercise is good for men and their sex lives?
All it takes to find out is getting off the couch to find out.