The more you reflect on this phenomenon, the more it makes sense: When we get in shape, our hearts pump better and our lungs get more oxygen, and that contributes to a feeling of "aliveness" which carries over into the bedroom, explains Diane Anderson, a registered clinical counselor in Vancouver who specializes in love relationships. In fact, fitness comes with a host of other surprising between-the-sheets benefits.
The sexual health benefits of including cardio in your workouts
Cardiovascular health improves stamina, Redpath says, and even an increase in flexibility can lead to bedroom exploration with more pleasure, comfort and ease. "[Exercise] makes all your issues and organs healthier, including your genitalia," says Anderson. "You can kiss longer and last longer during lovemaking because you're not so tired," she adds.
In addition to actual physical prowess, your body will unleash a host of powerful feel-good hormones as well, she says, such as serotonin, melatonin and testosterone. But perhaps most interestingly, Anderson says there is evidence that increased fitness levels can play a role in changing how we smell. By decreasing the levels of toxins in our bodies, we can improve our body odour and our breath, she says.
How fitness can affect women's self-image
"Especially for women, moving and being 'in' your body can help you to be more connected to your body – which often increases sexual enjoyment," says Anderson.
Redpath, who runs a class called Body Conditioning by Dancers, has long noticed the connection between sexuality and comfort with one's own body. "I am always amazed when I teach my women's fitness classes at how out of touch and disconnected women are with their bodies. Oftentimes women shy away and giggle when I ask them to move their bodies in a feminine way," she says. "I encourage women to own and honour what they have been given. If you do not appreciate and love your body yourself then how can you expect to openly and wholeheartedly share it with a partner?" she asks.
Page 1 of 2 – Discover the unexpected results one woman's new yoga routine had on her marriage on page 2.
Why exercise boosts your self-esteem
"Exercise can put you in a positive, self-confident, assured state of mind. There is nothing more attractive to your partner than your [positive] attitude," Redpath says. If you're overweight, even walking can help. "I have many clients who simply found even basic walking increased their positive feelings and self-esteem, and increased their sex life," Anderson says.
Indeed, if you're just starting to exercise, your perception of how you look is almost as powerful as your actual fitness level. "When we feel like we look better in our bodies (even if the changes are subtle) we usually respond very favourably to sexual advances, sexual invitations, and our desire levels increase," Anderson says.
Unexpected benefits of working out
Your own mental transformation can affect your partner's desire, sometimes in unexpected ways. "I know a woman who started doing yoga and felt more alive in her body. Her husband had been ho-hum about their love life, which was a problem for her because she liked and wanted more sex with him," Anderson recalls. "So she started to get more involved with yoga to satisfy her intellectually and to satisfy her need to be 'in' her body more. The more she got into yoga, and the less demanding she became of him, suddenly the more he became interested in her. Why? Because he felt less threatened because she was less demanding of him sexually. Her focus on her own self in a healthy and physical way was good for her and for him," she says.
Nothing beats looking as great as you feel, which probably won't go unnoticed by your partner. "We tend to think that muscle looks better and feels better (most-likely because we live in such fat phobic society), so even slight changes in your muscle tone will have a positive effect on both the athlete and the observer," Anderson says.
Fitness will intensify something called kinaesthetic ability, which means you are more likely to be and look graceful, sexually speaking. "There is also an evolutionary biological theory that states we are more sexually attracted to healthy bodies because it indicates lack of disease," she adds.
Tips for improving your love life through exercise
"Looking to start a new exercise regime or revamp your old one? Join a dance class or group fitness class," Redpath suggests. "You will see the immediate results of being in touch and in tune with your body."
Other ideas include exercising with your partner. "You'll be eyeing each other up in the gym and your sex drive will be revved up after an invigorating workout together," she says.
Also, change your exercise program frequently. "With change comes new challenges and excitement, creating new drive. That will inspire and translate into all aspects of your life," says Redpath. If you're still not motivated, Redpath has a final piece of advice. "The key to sexual pleasure is getting out of your head and into your body. What better way to ignite your senses than by exploring your body through exercise and movement?"
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