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2010 Physical Activity Symposium Logo
Click Here For Printable Version Physical Activity and Sex

Dear Cindy,
Is it true that fit people have better sex than those that don’t exercise? We have two youngchildren, ages 2 and 4. My husband is telling me that if I exercised more—he is very active—that our sex life would improve but at the end of the day I am truly exhausted after chasing afterthem. My argument is I am active taking care of two little ones so is there any truth to myhusband’s claim? Sleepy Mom

Dear Sleepy Mom,
Let me first validate your claim that taking care of two young children does indeed qualify asexercise. So you are right. However, it is not the kind that will improve your general healthwhich is usually associated with a satisfying sex life. So—he is right too. Let me clarify.

I predict your typical day goes something like this. They wake and your day begins with veryfew breaks. You use a massive amount of mental and physical energy caring for them—lifting,reaching, prodding, preparing, pulling, chasing in addition to managing behavioral issues,educating and trying to keep your cool under pressure. There should be no doubt in anyone’smind that doing this day in and day out is going to leave you physically and emotionally spent.

Burn baby burn
Are you burning calories throughout the day? Absolutely, and this is why it qualifies as physicalactivity or exercise. Do you finish each day stronger than the last? Absolutely not, and this iswhy you and millions of other caretakers are fantasizing about sleep rather than sex at the end ofthe day.

In order to end the day with energy to spare, your workouts need to be intense enough toimprove your cardiovascular system. Time should also be devoted to strength training whichwill make chasing after children all day long much easier. These are the two things that willkeep your energy up once you put the kids down at night. Boosting stamina is important becausemore often than not, energy or lack thereof is the biggest factor contributing to decreased sexualfunction and/or desire.

Get your groove back
Let’s understand the real difference here. Intentional exercise is activity that is planned. Youprepare with proper nutrition, hydration, attire and mental focus and then you push your physicallimits for a predetermined amount of time. This is followed by a cool down and stretch—allof which leave you feeling invigorated and none of which describe taking care of little ones.Because raising children is quite unpredictable, it is considered unintentional activity and assuch, unfortunately will do little to promote a more robust sexual appetite.

Honey, I have a headache
With regard to your husband’s claim, there have been countless studies on what helps andhinders the quality and quantity of sex. They concluded that obesity, fatigue, smoking, alcoholconsumption, emotional issues and money were all detrimental to sexual function and nothingpositively influenced sexual satisfaction or desire more than good general health.

While your husband is suggesting something healthful that will spill over and enrich many areasof your life and should be viewed with optimism, I would suggest to him that the best thing hecan do to enhance your sex life would be to carve out regular times where he is taking care ofthe children so that you can fit your physical activity in easily. This shows his support for yourfitness endeavors and will no doubt enlighten him as to how active you are during the day.

How much and how often (exercise that is)
One caveat is mentioned in the various studies. Subscribing to the belief that if a little is good,a lot is better, is not a great idea here if you desire increased sexual energy or performance.Overtraining will actually have negative effects on your love life because it can over-stimulatehormones and adversely affect sex drive and function. Research found that while vigorousexercise was recommended (the equivalent of walking two miles), the emphasis is placed onthe “regular” part (intentional physical activity most days of the week) which can elevate energy,stamina, passion and pleasure—all wonderful ingredients of a fulfilling sex life.

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