Strength training - your libido's new best friend

Photography: Chris Court

Want to give your a libido a natural boost and whittle your waistline? The surprising news is the solution could come from a very unexpected source.

"It’s well documented that exercise will improve sexual arousal for women,” explains Tierney Lorenz, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Kinsey Institute in the US. But now research has confirmed picking up a pair of weights could be all you need to improve your bedroom stamina. “A moderate to intense strength-training workout increases the arousal window to about 90 minutes,” Lorenz says. “We tested exercise sessions that were 30 minutes long, but even 20 minutes would be sufficient. Shorter than that and the body will recover too quickly to take advantage of the effect.” Suddenly, that leg press machine is looking a whole lot more enticing!

Why it fires up your desire, fast

There’s nothing like getting sweaty to get you energised for, well, getting sweaty. Exercise activates the sympathetic nervous system, which gets your blood pumping for physical activity, and also has the happy benefit of upping arousal levels. And when your workout helps raise (or lower) your sympathetic nervous system to a moderate level, your body becomes more physically and mentally primed to be responsive to sexual cues. In other words, getting your blood flowing at just the right level can do wonders for your sex life.

And although workouts using weights take a few extra minutes to get your nervous system firing in that middle range, you’ll be able to sustain it—and reap the benefits—for longer.

Guess what? Cardio works too!

Good news for the gym-phobic! Your sex drive could benefit just as much from a quick run. Lorenz’s research found that when women on antidepressants (where loss of libido is a common side effect) did 30 minutes of cardio just before hopping in the sack, they reported significantly higher levels of sexual desire. According to Lorenz, the effects of exercise - a rapid heart beat and a heightened sense of physical arousal - seem to prime women’s bodies to operate at their peak. One thing to know? Timing is everything. The study found that the arousing qualities of cardio only lasted five to 10 minutes but if you mix up your cardio with strength-training moves (think weights, resistance bands or body-weight moves like ab crunches), your heightened arousal state could last even longer. Sounds like a win-win to us.

Upgrade his bedroom stamina

Forget little blue pills. A study has found that pelvic floor exercises (for him!) are a sure-fire solution for erectile dysfunction (ED). Strengthening those low muscles that hold urine back restored or improved erectile function in 75% of men with ED, UK researchers found. Get him to contract the pelvic muscles as if he’s trying to avoid passing gas; hold for 10 seconds; then relax for 10. Repeat three times lying, three times sitting and three times standing, twice a day.

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