WebMD Feature Archive
Eat, exercise, relax and sleep your way to better sex
Better sex doesn't just involve technique. Keeping a fit mind and body can increase your enjoyment of bedroom antics
Have you thought about leading a healthier lifestyle but haven't got around to doing it? Here's a possible incentive: Experts say people who are mentally and physically fit are more likely to have good sex lives.
"If you feel good about yourself, you are in a better position to feel good about relationships, including your sex life," says psychologist Dr Karen Zager.
"When one is not feeling well, and is exhausted, it can certainly have a negative impact on the quality of one's sex life," says Dr Saralyn Mark, a women’s health expert.
This may all seem intuitive, yet many people find the road to a fitter mind and body to be bumpy, especially if it involves losing weight, starting an exercise programme, reducing stress or getting enough sleep.
One big reward, though, is to look and feel better - arguably a plus for good romantic and sensual activities.
While there is no proven connection between a balanced diet and bedroom performance, a poor diet can cause health problems that can possibly interfere with sex.
Studies show animals that get too few calories tend to have weakened immune systems, says John Allred, PhD, a professor emeritus of nutrition from Ohio State University. He says illness can be a big hurdle for pleasurable intercourse.
"If you have heart disease, then you might be taking medication that would inhibit sexual activity, or you might be afraid to have a heart attack," says Allred. "If you have the flu, a high fever or just don't feel good ... any of these things would be a turn-off."
Dr Mark Kantor, an associate professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Maryland, agrees, saying, "You will feel sexy if you look and feel good."
A way to do that is to eat an overall balanced diet and to exercise each day. The two go hand-in-hand, says Kantor, as demonstrated by today's obesity problem, in which people eat too much food and aren't active enough.
Move that body
Being physically active by doing about 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exertion a day can be a natural sexual boost.
"Men and women who exercise regularly are going to have increased levels of desire," says Cedric Bryant, PhD, an exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise. "They're going to have enhanced confidence, enhanced ability to achieve orgasm and greater sexual satisfaction."
If that isn't motivation enough to work out, consider this: researchers have found that there is a correlation between waist size and a man's odds of having erectile dysfunction (ED). The larger the man's waist size, the greater his chance of having ED (because of a higher risk of underlying cardiovascular disease).
Need more positive reinforcement? Studies show that regular, moderate exercise can have a positive benefit on major sexual problems such as ED in men and low libido in both men and women.