It has been officially established that exercising does wonders for one’s sex life and that being active is considered a potent aphrodisiac for both men and women.

At the most basic level, whether you are a man or a woman, genital arousal depends on blood flow to that area. This is why exercise is deemed great for sex, as it promotes blood flow and helps to boost sexual feeling.

But did you know that too much exercise at a too high intensity can also lead to low libido?

A professor of Exercise Physiology and Nutrition has linked libido decrease in men to training for a large number of hours or at a high intensity and cautions that moderation in exercising is key to optimal sexual performance. Dr. Anthony Hackney posits that exercise will increase your sex drive up to a point, but training beyond this point will most likely lead to low libido.

How too much exercise affects a woman’s libido

Women tend to react more sensitively to over-exercising than men.

There is first the risk of hypopituitarism when women exercise to an extreme or endurance level. This is essentially an under-functioning of the pituitary gland, and it leads to low levels of testosterone, estrogen, and body fat.

For a woman’s reproductive organs, along with all its hormones, to work effectively, they need a certain level of body fat. If over-exercising leads to low body fat, the body basically shuts down its capacity to become pregnant, and this extends to the desire for sex too.

The pelvic floor also come in to play when it comes to a woman’s sexual desire. It has been established that the slackening of the pelvic muscles after childbirth disturbs sexual sensation. What has just been discovered is that being overly active can also tighten the pelvic muscles to the point where sexual intercourse becomes challenging.

Julia Di Paolo, a leading pelvic floor physiotherapist explains that female athletes usually have a higher amount of tone in their pelvic floor called hypertonicity and that this usually leads to pain during penetration.

The vagina closes down on itself in the absence of a penetrating object but stretches to accommodate a tampon, penis or finger. Force-stretching it when it is very toned causes the brain to interpret this as pain.

How too much exercise affects a man’s libido

Hitting the gym regularly also diminishes men’s sex drive.

The University of North Carolina recently carried out a study of 1,077 active men who ran, swam, walked, biked, or lifted. The study concluded that those trained at the lowest intensities were about seven times more likely to report a higher libido than the men who trained at the highest levels of intensity. The duration of the training also played a factor in sexual drive. Men who trained the hardest or for the longest time were significantly more likely to report a lower libido.

Researchers say that intense exercise training oftentimes sparks a condition called exercise hypogonadal male condition where testosterone and the luteinizing hormone are suppressed, leading to a reduced sexual drive.

They also say that increased volumes of intense exercise lead to both physical and mental fatigue, which can significantly cut the desire and motivation for sex.


Keeping things in moderation

There is both room in everybody’s lives for sex and exercise, and there is indeed a way to impact your sex life positively with exercise, but the key is moderation. This is why Pete McCall, a fitness educator at the National Academy of Sports Medicine, suggests a 45-minute session cap. He advises men and women to limit high-intensity exercise to just 45 minutes with a frequency of two to three times a week in order to protect the libido.

Keeping things moderate allows your mental desire for sex to be at the maximum and sex is not uncomfortable because you are sore all over (this is especially true for women).

Hitting the gym during the day, then doing martial arts in the evening is a quick and easy way to grind your sex drive to zero because the body is under so much stress, and your brain doesn’t just switch off.

So, while you should still exercise and break out a sweat, don’t let it ever become too much.

The best exercises for a healthy sex life

The very best exercises for a healthy sex life are cardio exercises. Here is a brief rundown on some of them:

Running: When you run at a steady, moderate pace, this is a sure way to burn fat and calories. If you can’t get outside to run, you can set up your treadmill for a good run every day.

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Jumping Rope: This is easy to do, calorie burning and cheap to do kind of exercise. Jumping rope enhances footwork, builds shoulder strength, and helps with coordination.

Swimming: This is a total-body workout that begins the moment you begin treading water. Because you are basically fighting gravity, your muscles work extra hard to keep you afloat and don’t get a break until you’re out of the water. One minute of fast swimming alone will see you burning 14 calories while strengthening your core muscles.

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Sprinting: Sprinting is simple, burns huge amounts of calories, and helps you build stamina. Sprints outside, upstairs or bleachers, or on a treadmill, are great if you want to burn the most calories in the least amount of time, and if you want to develop core strength and strong leg muscles.

Elliptical machines: This is an excellent way to burn calories without wearing out your joints even though its calorie-burning effect isn’t as high as other cardio machines, like Stairmasters and treadmills. The best way to use an elliptical machine is to add a high incline to activate more leg muscles, especially the glutes.

Diet is still important

At the end of it all, your diet still has an important part to play in your everyday life, including your sex life and sex drive. Eating healthily means that you are giving your body the best fuel to function as effectively as possible, and this has an effect on your sex drive.

Poor diet habits may lead to poor health, chronic illnesses (or a higher risk of them), and poor stamina, which are not exactly compatible with a high sexual drive. So in all you do, make sure you eat healthily.

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