When You Stop Exercising, This Is What Happens To Your Sex Life

Those who exercise regularly would tell you that they feel less tired, have more energy, and also sleep better. Exercise is one of those natural remedies health practitioners recommend for just about everything. Want to maintain an ideal weight? Wish to keep heart disease and diabetes at bay? Wondering what you can do to help with a chronic illness? Exercise can be an answer to all of these and more. 

So, quite naturally, when you stop working out, your body is going to feel its effects, and your sex life, in particular, could suffer too. Everything from your libido, sexual health, and even sexual pleasure could be negatively impacted when your daily walking schedule takes a back seat. But how exactly does exercise boost your sex life?

According to Dr. Jorge Chavarro of the Harvard School of Public Health, staving off erectile dysfunction can be one of the main benefits of exercise (via WebMD). Staying physically active is also linked with better semen quality and prostate health. Women also benefit from a boost in blood flow to their nether regions: Everything from vaginal lubrication to how much pleasure is felt during sex depends on this. A 2021 study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who engaged in up to six hours of exercise weekly scored significantly higher when it came to sexual desire, arousal, and lubrication and also showed less sexual distress and resistance of clitoral arteries when compared with women who didn't work out. 

Exercise has an effect on your mental health and testosterone levels

How you feel mentally and emotionally can have a significant impact on how you feel in the bedroom. Exercise releases feel-good hormones called endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood boosters. Regular exercise also has an effect on your stress levels by reducing the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. So it is no wonder that when you stop exercising, you might feel anxious, stressed, and even sad. In fact, the science behind what happens to your mental health when you exercise points toward preventing depression and even treating mild depression and anxiety. 

Moreover, exercise makes people feel good about themselves, and that kind of confidence goes a long way when it comes to sex. A 2018 study published in the journal Sexual Medicine Reviews found that positive body image accompanied regular exercise, which could contribute toward sexual well-being. It also helps that exercise builds physical endurance, and this can be a big win when you're getting intimate with your partner. Being physically fit can reduce muscle soreness after sex and may even add more minutes to your bedroom activities. 

Both men and women have testosterone in their systems; this hormone plays an important role when it comes to sex drive. Exercise can boost testosterone levels in a few ways. For starters, there's a brief and immediate boost in testosterone levels post-workout. Additionally, exercise can improve testosterone levels by helping you maintain a healthy body weight. 

How much exercise do you need for a good sex life?

Aiming for 150 to 300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week is a good goal, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Including strength training targeting all your muscle groups twice a week is beneficial, too. Some might like splitting their gym sessions into upper and lower body workouts or push/pull workout days. While this is just a guideline, you can be more physically active if you like.

But the important thing to keep in mind is that there is such a thing as too much exercise, especially when it comes to your sex life. If you overtrain or don't give your body enough rest days to recover, you may end up feeling tired and simply not in the mood for sex. Your body might be more prone to injury and muscle soreness, which can also put a damper on things. Obsessing over working out all the time could also mean you're not enjoying a good work-life balance. And as anyone can attest, balancing work and play is important when it comes to getting in the mood for sex. The key is to build a healthy relationship with exercise and not overdo it, in order to reap its benefits without becoming too exhausted, burned out, or irritated for some intimacy.