February 4, 2003
The relationship between bedroom activity and fitness
Day . . . a time for flowers, chocolates, romance, and . .
. a physical display of affection. Hormones rage leading to
seduction and passion. Victoria's Secret has a huge run on
negligees. Married men who haven't a romantic bone left in
their bodies agonize over cards trying to send out the right
message without appearing overly anxious.
why don't I just say what I mean. On February 14, after the
flowers, after the chocolate, after the bubble bath . . .
couples everywhere are intertwined in that age old ritual
. . . that activity driven primordially by instinctive human
desire . . . SEX! What better time to discuss a subject we're
all interested in. And what better way to kick off the discussion
than by referring to boxing movies (OK, this is the time you
begin to think I'm off my rocker. What do boxing movies have
to do with sex and romance? Hang in there . . . it'll all
Rocky? He avoided sex before the big fight.
reason? "It weakens your legs."
you ever saw Raging Bull (a great movie!), you watched Robert
Dinero dump some ice down his shorts to quiet his raging sexual
desire. Apparently sex before a boxing match puts the participant
at a disadvantage.
legs? Decreased performance in the boxing ring? Are these
things legitimate concerns? I'll get to that. Firstly . .
. where did these ideas come from, and why do they keep showing
up in boxing movies? We can blame Muhammad Ali. He was very
vocal about his commitment to abstain from sex for six weeks
before a fight. "It makes a warrior out of you."
So was he right?
now, let's just assume it depends on how often, how active,
and what you're doing with your legs at the time. Even if
it does compromise the performance of a boxer vying for a
title shot, there is substantive scientific evidence to prove
. . . if you are fit and healthy . . . the potential for pleasure
and benefit far outweighs any possible compromises in performance.
get into this further, but just to alleviate your concerns,
I can say with complete confidence, You do not need to dump
a pitcher of ice down your shorts. Ever.
Is This Thing We Call Sex?
is pleasure, sex is passion, sex is emotion, and sex is a
physical melding of two bodies and minds. Sex is risky, sex
is enticing, sex is fun. As if those aren't enough reasons
to enjoy the experience, I'm going to share just a few more.
don't send me e-mails and letters yelling at me for not focusing
on the "reason" men and women have sex. We all know
procreation is a potential outcome . . . but I'm going to
focus on those issues you may not be aware of.
burns calories, sex stimulates muscle, and sex helps to create
a positive hormonal environment. Sex is physical activity
during which you maintain a moderate heart rate elevation.
In fact, if you were to have sex three nights a week for a
year, that would be the physical equivalent of running 75
miles! And given the choice . . . . the running loses out.
link between sex and exercise is indisputable. With that in
mind, there is some bad news and some good news. Read the
When you see a romantic
scene in a movie that gets especially sensual, what do you
call it? You call it "steamy" or "HOT!"
that scene with Michael Douglas and Demi Moore was hot!"
Using heat to describe
the intensity of sex is pretty much right on the money, as
a calorie is a unit of heat . . . and sex burns calories!
So what could be bad? Actually, if you're in good health,
assuming safe sex is practiced, not very much. The bad news
is minimal, the good news is thrilling. Sex-ercise works!
No, I'm not about
to come out with a new program . . . I just thought a better
understanding of the human body might lend itself to a greater
commitment to fitness and . . . all of the physical rewards
that commitment brings about!
The Bad News:
The breast enhancing
pills and penis enlarging pills DON'T WORK! That's not so
bad, is it? You didn't really think they worked anyway . .
. did you?
The Good News:
Getting in shape can
do wonders for your sex life.
long love making periods you'll need some cardiovascular endurance.
"Pooping out" is not going to win any romantic points. Exercising
aerobically, varying intensity between the high and low ends
of your Target Heart Zone can certainly carry over into the
Sex also requires
some muscular endurance as you may be holding some . . . ummm
. . . unusual positions, perhaps (hopefully) for extended
periods of time. In order to keep your body suspended in almost
any position, you're going to need core strength, strength
of the deep lying musculature of the abdominal region, pelvic
region (obviously), and the lower back. Many age-old exercise
principles, including Pilates and Functional Training, work
to strengthen those core muscles that can contribute to near
athletic prowess under the sheets.
More good news . .
. stress can lead to increases in a hormone called cortisol.
Excesses of cortisol can cripple sex drive. Hmmm. That's not
good. It can also lead to fat accumulation. Fat cells produce
an enzyme called aromatase that converts testosterone, our
sexual friend, into estrogen, a potential sexual saboteur.
No, that's not the good news either. The good news is, stress-induced
conditions of decreased sex drive are very fixable.
is the best way to minimize the damage of cortisol and to
stimulate the production of serotonin and dopamine, the neurotransmitters
that control pleasure. Lower cortisol production and crank
up serotonin and . . . you may feel like a teenager again!
I already mentioned
testosterone and estrogen. These are the primary male and
female sex hormones respectively. It's important to note that
we all have "some" of each, regardless of our gender.
Women just have predominantly more estrogen, men more testosterone.
Of course there's a hormonal component to sex and performance.
During periods where hormone production is kicked into high
gear, such as puberty, sex becomes an overriding compulsion.
Resistance exercise can optimize the balance in both men and
women of testosterone and estrogen. The time in people's lives
when this hormonal balance is optimized is referred to as
your "Sexual Peak." With a sensible program, you can again
hit your sexual peak.
More Good News:
There are some herbal
products that really work to increase sensation and improve
sexual performance. They are not without risk, but standardized
herbal formulations combining L-arginine and yohimbe can increase
blood flow . . . let's say . . . below the waist.
The Best News:
you're self-conscious about your body, whether you think you
have jiggly thighs, a wobbly belly, or you just don't want
to be seen without clothes, with an understanding of the synergistic
vital principles of nutrition and exercise, and an application
of these simple principles, you can love your body . . . and
so can your significant other!
better, more often!
Let's get back to
the those abstaining boxers for a minute . . . oh, and by
the way, sexual abstinence before an athletic event is not
limited to boxers. The Minnesota Vikings were separated from
their wives and observed a policy of pre-game sexual abstinence
before all four of their Super Bowl visits. Hmmmm. The Vikes
are 0 and 4 in the Super Bowl.
The science supports
the theory that not only doesn't sex sabotage performance,
it improves it! Research at the University of L'Aquila in
Italy, conducted by Emmanuele Jannini, demonstrated that sex
stimulates increases in testosterone in men, the hormone responsible
for aggression and displays of male toughness. Bottom line
. . . sex the night before a competition can make you a champion!
This isn't limited
to men. Women in sports find increases in the relaxation-inducing
neurotransmitters which helps to alleviate any pre-game jitters.
(Thornton, James S. "Sexual Activity and Athletic Performance:
Is There a Relationship?" Physician and Sports Medicine V18,
N3 (March, 1990):148)
The Flip Side of
the Coin - You Better Exercise Or Else . . .
as we know that a commitment to fitness increases sexual prowess,
we also know that the absence of a fitness program can put
your sex life in an early grave . . . or worse yet . . . can
put you in the grave with it!
you allow yourself to accumulate fat, if you allow your arteries
to clog up like rusty sink pipes, you're setting yourself
up for additional disappointment in more ways than one. A
study conducted in the Stockholm Heart Epidemiology Programme
(SHEEP) concluded that increased risk of heart attack after
sexual activity for those who are less physically fit supports
the hypothesis that myocardial infarction may be brought on
by sex. (J Mller, A case-crossover analysis in the Stockholm
Heart Epidemiology Programme, Heart, Volume: 86 Issue: 4 Page:
387-390 Year: 2001)
This is getting scary.
Should I keep going? OK, I will . . . just a little bit longer.
average man has a 25% chance (1 out of 4) of having chronic
hypertension. He also has a 1-out-of-12 chance of developing
diabetes. This triples the likelihood of impotence after the
age of 50. (Everett J., et al, Special Report The Average
Man Survey, Men's Health, 2000, p 59-68)
Obesity destroys sex
lives! Men who have a 42-inch waist are twice as likely to
develop erectile dysfunction as men with a 32-inch waist,
regardless of age. (Rimm, E. et al, Body weight, physical
activity, and alcohol consumption in relation to erectile
dysfunction among US male health professionals free of major
chronic diseases. American Urologic Association, 2000, Atlanta,
GA. Journal of Urulogy)
Is this a serious
problem? Well, let's just say the financial security of American
urologists is pretty secure. Obesity has reached epidemic
proportions, and sexual dysfunction has increased accordingly.
According to American Health & Fitness, 21% of relationship
break-ups are connected to impotence. This obesity explosion
is not specific to men, to women, or to any age groups. Obesity
escalates across the board. (Mokdad, A.H., Serdula M.K., Dietz
W.H., Bowman, B.A., Marks, J.S., & Koplan, J.P. (1999). The
spread of the obesity epidemic in the United States, 1991-1998.
Journal of the American Medical Association. 282(16), 1519-1522.)
Let's conclude with
some good news.
Men who exercise enjoy
more active sex lives than those who do not make exercise
a regular part of their daily routine. (White, J. R., Case,
D. A., WcWhirter, M. D., et al. (1990). Enhanced sexual behavior
in exercising men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 19, 193-209.)
Research showed significant
changes among exercising men in all areas of their sex life.
As compared to non-exercisers, the active men reported enhanced
sex drive, in more foreplay and in more frequent intercourse
(by about 30%). They also reported less sexual dissatisfaction
and dysfunction such as failure to attain or maintain erection,
fantasized more, and had a far greater propensity to act upon
their fantasies. (Levin, S. (1993). Does exercise enhance
sexuality? Physician and Sports Medicine, 21, 199-203.)
According to ACE:
The following reports
were taken from an American Council on Exercise (ACE) press
release dated February 5, 2003:
- At the University of California,
San Diego, a study of 78 sedentary but healthy middle-aged
men proved that those who started working out regularly
(three to four times a week, for 60 minutes per session)
reported more frequent sexual activity and orgasms, more
reliable function during sex, and a higher percentage of
- A study conducted at the University
of North Carolina’s Applied Physiology Lab found that athletes
who exercised at 70 percent of their VO2 max experienced
a 40 percent increase in free-testosterone and an increase
in epinephrine. These higher hormonal levels all contribute
to a heightened sexual arousal.
study at the University of Texas at Austin researched 35
young women (ages 18 – 34) who on two separate occasions,
watched first a short travel film, then an X-rated film.
The first time the subjects cycled vigorously for 20 minutes,
the second time they did not. After measuring the subject’s
sexual response, using a device that measures blood flow
in genital tissue, researchers found that after exercising,
the women’s vaginal responses were 169 percent greater.
OK, if you want to
improve your fitness level, your physical appearance, your
energy level, and . . . we can now add "your sex life,"
take advantage of one of my seminars or programs!
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