Regular exercise can improve a person’s sex life, according to a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
The study investigated the link between exercise and sexual dysfunction in a large group of men and women of different ages who exercised regularly.
Sexual problems, such as low libido, orgasm dissatisfaction and difficulty becoming aroused are common among adults and can decrease quality of life in both women and men.
The study recruited cyclists, runners and swimmers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and included 3906 men and 2264 women.
It found that higher levels of weekly cardiovascular exercise were protective against sexual dysfunction in both women and men.
Jean Hailes endocrinologist Dr Sonia Davison says the study found an association between higher levels of exercise and lower levels of female sexual dysfunction, orgasm dissatisfaction, and trouble becoming aroused.
“What this means is that exercise is important for factors that make a positive impact on sexual function, such as general physical fitness and vascular [circulation of the blood] function,” Dr Davison says.
“However, also likely to be important are the effects that exercise has on wellbeing and mood.”
Dr Davison says the body is “designed for physical activity”, and government guidelines recommended 150 minutes of exercise for women per week.
“Exercise is important for many aspects of physical health, including cardiovascular health, weight maintenance, and cancer prevention,” she says.
Exercise is also important for mental health, mood and wellbeing, with some studies also showing that exercise has a protective effect on brain function and memory.
However, Dr Davison says that due to time constraints such as the demands of work and family life, many women struggle to meet the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week.
“Regular activity or exercise is important for the balance between physical, mental and, in this case, sexual health,” says Dr Davison.
“I encourage women to do some sort of physical activity that is achievable and enjoyable on a regular basis, even given the time constraints of busy lives.”
Other studies regarding female sexual dysfunction have typically focused on obese, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women. However, this study deliberately focused on a group of people who regularly exercised, Dr Davison says.
“The study has reported a positive effect of exercise on sexual function, and importantly, a lower rate of sexual dysfunction in women who regularly exercise than would be expected for the general public,” she says.
Find more information on libido and sexual function on the Jean Hailes website.
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