We might have finally found a way to get ourselves off the couch: A new study has evidence that men who exercise might receive enormous benefits in their sex lives.
Staying in shape: The study, published March 20 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, examined both activity levels and sexual function in a group of 295 healthy men using self-reported questionnaires.
Unsurprisingly, it turns out that the men who hit the gym most had a major leg up in the bedroom. The study found that highly active men had the highest sexual function scores, which included the ability to have erections and orgasms, as well as the quality and frequency of erections.
What qualifies someone as highly active? According to Science Daily, "frequent exercise" averages out to "two hours of strenuous exercise, such as running or swimming, 3.5 hours of moderate exercise or six hours of light exercise."
Notably, while past studies have found a link between exercise and erectile function, this study is the first to include a significant number of African-American subjects, who are often underrepresented. The results show that a few more laps around the block do indeed benefit all men, no matter their race or ethnicity.
On the flip side, the couch potato participants in the study had reportedly the lowest sexual function of all. Listen, guys: Season three of House of Cards is good, but not that good.
Everybody benefits: It's not just the guys who could benefit from a few more runs or long walks per week. Women can experience huge physiological changes due to exercise, starting with increased blood flow in the body.
"Increased blood flow to a woman's genitals creates vasocongestion — swelling of the vaginal walls, labia and clitoris — which increases sensitivity and can result in more intense orgasms," sex therapist Kat Van Kirk told Shape. Exercise can also help regulate our hormone levels by lowering estrogen levels, which can increase arousal in both men and women, according to Kirk.
It's all about the attitude: The sexual benefits of exercise go beyond stiffer erections, more sensitive organs and toned pelvic muscles. Exercise also can boost our personal sexual confidence.
A 2004 study found that women and men who exercised two to three times a week rated themselves as above average in sexual desirability. This might have something to do with the endorphins released during exercise, but improved body image can also make us feel sexier and help us approach sex with much more confidence.
So the next time you're contemplating trying CrossFit or you're two episodes away from missing that yoga class, consider the benefit putting in those few extra hours of fitness can bring. Increased sexual stamina, function, flexibility and — most of all — confidence might be the one thing in life that could convince us to put that remote down.