February 4, 2003

Sex and exercise?
The relationship between bedroom activity and fitness

Valentines 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.

Oh, 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 tie together).

Remember Rocky? He avoided sex before the big fight.

The reason? "It weakens your legs."

If 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.

Weak 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?

For 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.

I'll 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.

What Is This Thing We Call Sex?

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.

Now 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.

Sex 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.

The link between sex and exercise is indisputable. With that in mind, there is some bad news and some good news. Read the news below:

Sex and Fitness

When you see a romantic scene in a movie that gets especially sensual, what do you call it? You call it "steamy" or "HOT!"

"Man, 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.

For 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 bedroom.

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.

Exercise 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:

Whether 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!

Longer, better, more often!

The Science:

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 . . .

Just 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!

If 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.

Statistically, the 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 satisfying orgasms.
  • 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.
  • A 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!

The Next Seminar

The Best You've Ever Been "Breakthroughs" Seminar

June 5, 2003

Marriott Marina

in Fort Lauderdale

7:30 - 10:30 PM


Tickets: $89

Limited Time Early Registration Discount: $29.99

If you won't be in South Florida and you can't attend the Breakthroughs seminar . . . get the book that shares it all!

The testimonials keep coming.

"There's only one word I can think of. Thanks. For 20 years I've been working out and eating what I thought was a healthy diet. After going through your Physical Excellence Program twice (first the novice, then the advanced), I believe I've seen more changes in 16 weeks than in the entire 20 years. You speak a language I understand, and that seems to be rare among fitness professionals. Thank you for cutting through all of the bull and helping people like me understand the fitness truth!"

- Todd McPherson, Carlsbad, CA

Find info and ordering details by clicking here.

Of Interest to Fitness Professionals:

Suggested Next Page:

    Go to the Previous [ Update ].

If You Haven't Been There Yet:

[ Fitness Superstore ] [ Site MENU ] [ Seminars ]

Previous Updates:

Update 1/25/03 - Phil's Biggest Mistake - The EAT! Formula Screw Up

Update 1/12/03 - The Talk Show Illusion (Infomercials exposed)
Update 12/14/02 - Penis Enlargers and Breast Enhancing Pills
Update 11/20/02 - How Do I Lose This?
Update 8/27/02 - The Promise and the Real Story Behind the Infomercials
Update 8/01/02 - Clearing up Four Prevalent Myths

Update 6/20/02 - Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
Update 5/11/02 - Miracle GH, What "Works"
Update 3/25/02 - Women on Steroids and More on Core Training

Update 2/15/02 - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Fitness
Update 1/14/02 - Counting Calories
Update 12/28 - 'Twas the Night Before New Years
Update 12/8 - The New Electronic Ab Offerings
Update 12/12 - The "Magic" is Within You
Update 11/20 - Holiday eating!

Update 11/3 - Weight Loss Bread and other Nonsense!
Update 10/29 - Supplement Values
Update 10/3 - Getting Back to Doing What We Do
Update 9/19 - Tragedy and Love, RE: Sept 11
Update 8/15 - Myths, Fallacies, False Beliefs
Update 8/1 - The Internet, Leptin, Steroids, and more
Update 7/9 - The New Supplements
Update 6/14 - Seminar offerings and clarity on "Brownies"
Update 5/29 - Lose Weight, Eat Brownies?!?!?
Update 5/1/01
- Pizza, Beer, and Fitness
Update 4/7/01 - "Phil-osophies" and Rip-Off Realities!
Update 4/1/01 - Gourmet Recipes!
Update 3/15/01 - Research Has Proven?
Update 3/1/01 - Preparing for The New Infomercial
Update 2/1/01 - Time, Space, Matter, and Energy
Update 1/15/01 - Atkins hits the UK
Update 10/7/00 - Supplements, Additional Clarity
Update 7/27/00 - The Experts Round Table, Almada, Colgan, Parillo
Update 7/3/00 - Core Training & Metabolism Boosters

Let Phil Know Your Opinions and Comments:

[ Feedback ]

e-mail Phil Kaplan

site designed and operated by
Phil Kaplan
Phil Kaplan's Fitness Associates
1304 SW 160th Ave., #337
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33326
(954) 389-0280
Fax (954) 742-3173