07/10/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Does Fitness Improve Your Sex Life?

There are some conversations that at the beginning sound like a good idea but the more you get into it, the more you realize that you're going places you never intended. Take, for instance, explaining the rules of Clue to a five year old.

"Mommy, why is there a crooked stick in here?"

"It's a lead pipe, honey."

"Why is there a lead pipe in here?"

"Well, see it's a weapon."

"What's a weapon?"

"Something you use to kill people."

"How do you kill people with a lead pipe?" (Oh Google search is gonna love this post!)

"Ummm... you hit them really hard with it."


"Probably their head."

"In their face?"

"I suppose that would do."

"How many times do you have to hit them?"

Gasp. Choke. Cough.

"Mommy, what's this wrench doing in here?"

Who knew Clue was such a moral minefield? Maybe we should play a different game. Anyone up for Battleship? "What's a nuclear submarine, mommy?"

Anyhow, today's post is going to be one of those conversations is what I'm saying. It all started when a reader asked me in the comments of one of my Bodily Functions & Fitness 101 posts how exercise affects your sex life. She then added helpfully that her sex drive went through the floor when she was working out a lot. You know I love a good over-share!

Without asking too many personal questions, let's take a look at the research (because you know somebody somewhere got grant money to study this!):

How Exercise Improves Your Sex Life
1. Stamina. Sex is a fitness endeavor after all, as Men's Health is fond of reminding us on every single page. So it only follows that if you improve your overall fitness level that your endurance in other areas would also benefit. Increased cardio capacity leads to increased blood flow -- always helpful. Besides, you really don't want to be one of those people who dies from heart attack during sex do you? On second thought, never mind, maybe you do.

2. Body Confidence. As anyone who has lost weight or toned up -- or both -- can tell you, once you start feeling better about yourself and how you look, you're more eager to shed the clothing. Even without losing any pounds or bulking any muscles, exercise has a way of making you feel more confident and sexy!

3. Strength. I won't elaborate too much on this one except to say that being strong has its advantages in and out of the gym. If you need ideas of which exercises to do to improve your horizontal hip hop skillz, WebMD has a video for you. Yeah, WebMD. I know. It might be like walking in on your parents but I'm pretty sure it's SFW (safe for work).

4. Body Knowledge. There is something about exercise that helps you understand your body and how it works better. Whether it's the coordination required to do a step aerobics class or the knowledge that bent-over rows work your upper back better than reverse pec-dec flys, knowing how your body responds to different things is a great tool.

5. Stress Relief. Everything from yoga to weights to a good long run can get those endorphins flowing and the stress hormone cortisol crashing down. Less stress is better for everyone involved, right?

How Exercise Hurts Your Sex Life
1. Steroids. Remember this guy? Don't be this guy. Besides the cosmetic issues, messing with your hormones can certainly impact your reproductive capabilities.

2. Overexercising. Like Mackenzie pointed out, sometimes you can reach a point where you exercise to the exclusion of everything else. Not only do you not mentally have the space to care about another person but physically you're so spent that sex doesn't even show up on your radar.

3. Injury. A rolled ankle probably won't put you out of business but a pulled groin or a sprained back sure will!

4. Training schedules. Often a new athlete is like someone who just found religion. They eat, sleep and breathe their new-found sport. This single-minded devotion makes them universally admired by magazine editors. It also makes them despised on bulletin boards but I digress. Sometimes people get so enthused about their new healthy lifestyle that they lose all interest in other pursuits. Who can fit in nookie when you wake up at 4, go to bed at 8 and have to eat every 2 hours in between?

I think it's pretty obvious what the conclusions here are: never mix sex with lead pipes. (Or ropes David Carradine -- did you never watch C.S.I.?!?) I mean, fitness has the capacity to increase your enjoyment in the bedroom and your skills as a lovah -- as long as you don't take it to the extreme.

Knowing that all of you are dying to spill your guts, I have created this comprehensive poll: