Your outdoor activities may affect your sex drive. Here’s why.
The first time I swung to the summit fourteen years ago, I spent the descent daydreaming about a second kind of ascent. (Yes, I’m talking about sex here.) But after I downed my ceremonial kombucha at the base, climbing on top of my partner was the last thing I was in the mood for.
As personal as it may sound, my lack of interest in sex after my tax trip wasn’t just an issue for me. It is a fairly common phenomenon among outdoor enthusiasts who train long and hard. Research suggests that exercising too much or too little can make sex unattractive.
Exercising adheres to the “Goldilocks Doctrine,” explains Lindsey Harper, MD, founder and CEO of Rosy, a sexual health technology platform. As in well-known fairy tales, it’s all about finding the right balance.
Why outdoor activity supports your sex drive
According to Harper, exercise affects sex drive in several ways. For starters, the movement supports blood circulation throughout the body, she says. “Blood flow to the genitals is the first physiological step in arousal,” says Stephanie Hack, MD, founder of the Ladyparts Doctor podcast. She explains that if you have good circulation as a result of your exercise routine, you are more likely to have a steady flow of blood to your genitals.
You can turn to your sport to boost your mental health. But those minutes on the bike or trail do more than ease your anxiety; It also increases your sex drive. For most people, stress is the ultimate libido killer, says Rachel Wright, psychotherapist and host of The Wright Conversations podcast. Normally, when you’re stressed, your body prioritizes acts of survival—like sleeping, eating, and hydrating—over acts of procreation or pleasure, like sex, she says. Exercise can be a healthy outlet for stress. Protection from negative consequences Unwanted anxiety. But it also goes beyond that, contributing to your mental health — and sense of self.
“Practice regular movement is associated with a better sense of self-image and self-confidence,” says Harper. A 2016 study published in Neurological and psychological diseases and their treatment found that physical activity had a direct and positive relationship with the participants’ self-esteem. When an individual finds kinesthetic practice that makes them feel more confident in themselves, it’s common for them to notice an increased interest in solo, partner, and multi-partner play, says Wright.
In general, a lack of physical activity is associated with decreased sexual desire, which is a broad term that indicates an individual’s interest in having sex, experiencing sexual intimacy, or achieving orgasm. One observational study from 2018 published in Journal of Education and Health Promotion It found that 43 percent of unstable women and 31 percent of sedentary men had sexual dysfunction. Researchers have defined this as loss of sex drive or arousal as well as erectile dysfunction.
How too much outdoor activities can interfere with your libido
Incorporating a walking trail, midday hike, or mountain biking episode into your routine can improve your libido, especially if the furthest you walked that week was from the couch to the fridge. If you jog a few times a week, your sex drive is likely to increase.
But, respectfully, outdoor athletes are known for being obsessed with their favorite sport. You can probably talk longer about your last high than the time it took you to reach that high. While you spend a lot of time doing what you love to look great, there are instances where all that outdoor work can hurt your performance in the bedroom.
“You can definitely get too much of a good thing, and that goes against exercise, including outdoor exercise,” says Harper. There are a number of mental, emotional and physical side effects exaggerationsuch as increased pain, loss of performance, and lipid calmness.
In a 2017 study published in Medicine and Sports in Sports and Aerobics, researchers linked regular high-intensity, long-distance exercise to a “significant” decrease in libido in men. By regular, these researchers mean regularly—nearly 60 percent of the 1,100 study participants exercised at least 7 hours a week. In addition, a 2009 study published in Endocrinology Journal It found that male athletes who trained long and hard had lower sperm counts and lower testosterone levels, compared to their peers who didn’t. There does not appear to be a corresponding study conducted with female athletes. But, 2017 study It found that lower estrogen levels in women can reduce their libido.
Intense exercise can lead to a drop in levels of sex hormones, a condition called HypogonadismHack says. the sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) are modulators of sex drive. When they drop, she says, the sex drive can take a hit. Additionally, in some cases, if you exercise frequently and fail to rest properly, you can develop Overtraining Syndromesays Harper. She says the condition affects the endocrine (hormone) system, nervous system, immune response, and sex drive.
However, a decreased libido in a serious outdoor athlete does not always indicate a medical condition. “Sometimes all that physical activity makes you tired,” Hack says. She says it’s normal to come home from a long flight or road and feel more drawn to Netflix and chill literally, not figuratively.
How do you balance your outdoor sporting aspirations with your sexual desire?
To achieve peak performance and pleasure at the same time, consider these six recommendations for maximizing your physical fitness and sex drive. Because it is possible to have a training schedule and a thriving sex life at the same time.
1. Be patient with your body
“It’s very normal for your libido to fluctuate,” says Hack. If you feel frustrated with the state of your current sex drive, wait for this calm.
In addition to activity changes, your relationship status, associated happiness, alcohol and drug use, and general health can also affect sex drive, she says.
2. Consider your priorities
Balance isn’t just the thing you need when climbing a mountain. It’s also what helps you maintain a healthy sex life. “As with everything in life, the key to personal success is balancing your priorities in favor of what’s important to you,” says Harper.
Ask yourself: What do I value most? In some cases, you may have to cut back on the time and energy you devote to other tasks in order to increase your libido.
3. Recover as much as possible
According to Harper, you may find your libido decreases when you’re not feeding properly. Evolutionarily speaking, when you’re in a calorie deficit, your body is programmed to not want sex. This is because it interprets a lack of incoming nutrients as a sign that there are not enough resources available to sustain another individual, says Harper.
She recommends working with a sports nutritionist to make sure your diet supports your exercise and sexual health goals.
4. Keep a training journal
Maybe you already maintain magazine Where you document your most recent workouts. However, if you also want to monitor your sexual desire, Harper recommends noting changes in sex drive in the same training log. “Keeping both things in the same place can help you understand how, when, and when one supports or detracts from the other,” she says.
5. Communicate with your partner
If you’re serious about your outside endeavors, chances are your partner(s) know about you. In the same way that you talk about your workouts and races, you can chat with them about your libido changes, says Wright.
“After you’ve engaged, invite your partner(s) to continue the conversation with you by asking them if there are other things you can do to help them feel less cared for during sex,” she says.
6. Talk to your healthcare provider
If your regular exercise schedule hasn’t changed, but your libido has, it might be time to chat with your doctor. Certain medications, including antidepressants, testosterone blockers, and diuretics, may contribute to a loss of libido. Additionally, in some rare cases, a decreased sex drive can be a symptom An underlying health condition.
Ultimately, your health care provider can help you discern if there are any other medical causes for low libido, Hack says.