How can regular exercise affect your sex life?
Whether it’s having a direct impact (hello, Kegels!) or its effects are more subtle, regular exercise offers a range of sex-enhancing mental and physical benefits.
It reduces stress Nothing kills the mood like thinking about work piling up, kids and pets that need to be looked after, or chores that need to be done. We know that exercise can help remedy this — physical activity produces endorphins, a group of hormones that act as a natural pain reliever — making you feel happier. And if you’re happier, your sex drive is sure to benefit.
It boosts self-esteem Regular physical activity makes you feel better about yourself, and that translates to the bedroom. An older study from the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality found that those who exercise are more likely to have a positive perception of themselves and feel that they’re more sexually desirable.
It may boost circulation and blood flow
When you exercise your heart contracts faster, increasing the rate at which your blood circulates through the body. Good circulation can help increase sensation where it matters most — and if you have a penis, it may even reduce your risk of erectile dysfunction (ED). Although a number of things can contribute to ED, it ultimately occurs when blood is unable to travel to the penis effectively.
It may lead to more frequent and more intense orgasms If you exercise regularly, odds are you have stronger core, pelvic floor, and leg muscles than if you were sedentary. The stronger these muscles are — especially your pelvic floor — the more intense your orgasms can be. What exercises can you do to help increase stamina and sensation?
If you’re already active, you may find that some of the moves in your current routine have been providing these sexy benefits all along. Adding one or more of the following can help increase stamina and sensation:
Kegel. This pelvic floor exercise strengthens the muscles in your nether region, aiding in bladder and bowel control, as well as improving sexual function.
Bridge. Strengthen your hamstrings, glutes, and pelvic floor with a bridge, which will help you thrust harder and longer.
Squat. Stronger legs mean more fun in the bedroom. Target your quads, hamstrings, and glutes with squats. They’ll hit your pelvic floor, too.
Lunge. Lunges target your legs and promote stability — a good thing if you like to get creative between the sheets.
Pushup. Building mainly upper body strength, pushups will allow you to support your own bodyweight with ease and try advanced positions with confidence.
Frog jump. Plyometric exercises like frog jumps require your muscles to exert maximum effort in a very short period of time. They’ll build explosiveness, power, and strength, all of which will benefit your sex life.
Plank. A full-body exercise great for building overall strength and stability, a plank also helps you support your own body weight. You’ll also work on your balance, which will help you hold those unstable positions easier.
Does sex count as exercise?
Sexual activity can definitely feel like hard work, especially if you’re holding complicated positions.
And while moving your body in any way is beneficial for your health, we do have some bad news — sexual activity isnt a huge calorie burner.
A 2013 studyTrusted Source looked at 21 heterosexual couples in their early 20s, tracking energy expenditure during exercise and sexual activity.
Results showed that, on average, healthy participants burned an average of 3.6 calories per minute during sexual activity.
So while you may feel like you ran a marathon at the end, odds are you’re only burning about 50 calories during 10-15 minute of penile-vaginal sex.
Although more research is needed, this data is likely similar for other types of sex.
What sex positions can you try to get a workout in?
If you’re looking to up the sweat equity of your bedroom time, you’ve got plenty of options. Although the following moves are often associated with penis-in-vagina sex, you can also give it a go with fingers or a wand toy, switch up the entry point, or forego penetration entirely in favor of a little bump and grind.
Squat This leg burning-position is exactly what it sounds like. To do this, have the giving partner lay on their back so that the receiving partner can mount in a squatting position. The top partner can rest their hands on the bottom partner’s chest or lean back slightly to help maintain stability while bouncing. If your legs get tired, move into the traditional riding position by switching from a squat to a kneeling pose.
Lotus For this intimate move, the giving partner sits cross legged on the bed or floor. The receiving partner sits in the giving partner’s lap, face-to-face with their legs wrapped tightly around the giver’s waist. Then wrap your arms around each other, embracing and grinding until you’re both satisfied.
Lunge Seeing a trend? This exercise-turned-sex-position is definitely more fun than reps at the gym! To give it a try, the receiving partner should assume a lunge position on top of the giving partner. One of the top partner’s legs should be bent in a 90-degree angle — like a lunge — with the foot planted next to the bottom partner’s midsection. The other leg should be extended between the bottom partner’s legs. From here, the bottom partner can thrust or grind upward.
Chair Picture the lotus position, and then add a chair. Allowing the giving partner to remain seated will give their legs a much needed break, but the receiving partner will have to pick up the slack. To make the most of the bounce, the receiving partner should brace against the giver’s shoulders or hold on to the back of the chair for support.
Suspended congress Although the giving partner will be doing the heavy lifting, the receiver will rely on their arms, core, and thighs to help maintain the position. When the giving partner is in a stable stance, the receiver will wrap their arms around the giver’s neck and jump up to wrap their legs around the giver’s waist. The giving partner can use their hands to guide the top partner’s hips as they rock back and forth.
What advanced positions are easier to try when you’re fit?
If you’re up to it, these acrobatic positions will test your strength and endurance.
Wheelbarrow Remember that fun game you used to play in elementary school? Say hello to the sexy version! The receiver will need ample upper body strength to remain supported, so keep this in mind. To do this, the receiver should get on all fours while the giving partner stands behind. The giving partner will grab the receiver’s ankles — allowing the receiver to straighten their legs — and move closer. When the standing partner is situated between the bottom partner’s legs, the standing partner can enter the bottom partner from behind.
Bridge The receiving partner will be in a reverse tabletop position, so it requires some serious arm, core, and glute strength. Don’t let those hips sag! The giving partner should kneel between the receiving partner’s legs and thrust upward. If you want to move in sync, the giving partner can offer support by holding the receiver’s hips and guiding them back and forth. You can also place a pillow or other support under the receiver’s back to help them hold the position and prevent discomfort.
V position You’ll need to be pretty flexible, plus have solid core muscles, to get busy in this position. The receiving partner should sit on a table or on a high bed, lean back, and spread their legs. The giving partner should stand between the receiver’s legs, lifting them up to rest against their chest. The receiver’s feet will likely rest on the giver’s shoulders, creating that V shape. The receiving partner can plant their hands behind them for added support while the standing partner thrusts.
Suspended scissors It’s like the regular scissor position, but the receiver will be supporting their body weight while hanging off the edge of the bed. In other words, the receiver will need serious upper-body and core strength. To get into position, the receiver should plank off of the bed with their feet on the edge. The giver should straddle the receiver’s left leg and gently lift the receiver’s right leg up an inch or two. This will help the receiver rotate their torso so that the giver can easily enter from behind.
Squat balance Another squat hold, but this time, the giver won’t be on the bottom! They’ll be standing behind the receiver, which makes it more challenging. When the giving partner is in position, the receiver should squat on a chair, table, or even bed — any sturdy elevated surface will do. The giver should be able to thrust upward into the receiving partner or guide their hips down for easier entry. The receiver can press back against the giver’s chest for added support.
The bottom line Sexual activity doesn’t have to be a workout — but if you want to put your strength and endurance to the test, it can be. Nicole Davis is a Boston-based writer, ACE-certified personal trainer, and health enthusiast who works to help women live stronger, healthier, happier lives. Her philosophy is to embrace your curves and create your fit — whatever that may be! She was featured in Oxygen magazine’s “Future of Fitness” in the June 2016 issue. Follow her on Instagram.
Last medically reviewed on July 30, 2019