With Valentines Day coming up isn’t a better love life something every woman wants? I’ll show you how exercise can improve your love (and sex) life whether you’re married, coupled up or back in the dating game!
Eating well, exercising, and being fit and healthy are proven to improve a person’s sex drive, however if might not be for the reasons you think.
Not many people are going to feel particularly confident, sexy or energetic if they’re carrying an extra two stone and haven’t been able to fit into their ‘nice’ bottom drawer underwear for 5 years, and yes therefore becoming healthier will help address these physical and psychological issues, but the changes go deeper to actual physiological changes that occur within the body, one side effect of these being, an improved sex drive.
High Stress = Low Libido
When the body is put under stress, the endocrine system, or hormonal messenger system, slows down. Stress can be actual ‘bad day at work’ stress, but can also be toxins such as cigarettes, alcohol and pollution, processed food, exercising too hard or in the wrong way for too long, too little sleep, or illness, even a common cold.
Stress is a fight or flight response, and cavemen would never have lived to keep the human race going if they’d stopped to oogle at the women in their camp whilst trying to run from a sabre toothed tiger.
The longer stress goes on, the less your hormones are allowed to communicate properly, and that includes the hormones responsible for reproduction and sex drive. Dr Peter Biro, an Australian academic, identified evidence from numerous studies that exercising more, and having a higher metabolism, leads people to exhibit personality traits that include a higher sex drive. It’s thought that the effect on the hormones testosterone and adrenaline are responsible, two hormones linked with regular exercise. Biro goes on to demonstrate: “Male crickets with sex on their mind tend to call to attract mates more who have higher metabolisms, than those with slower metabolism.” Well if it works for crickets…
High Intensity Interval Training combined with lots of walking, clean eating of lower starch and sugar foods to restore insulin (another hormone) sensitivity, aka balance your blood sugar levels, are things you can try, and you don’t need a gym membership – just look up free workout videos online. This type of exercise also increases testosterone levels which in turn increases libido, but fear not ladies, it is nowhere near enough to make you ‘masculine’ or ‘bulk up’ in any way!
Brain chemicals responsible for mood and happiness such as dopamine also become more balanced with regular exercise, and are important for self-esteem and to keep depression and low mood a rare or non-existent occurrence.
6 Fun Fitness Challenges to do With Your Partner
If you’re bored of working out alone or need some healthy competition to ramp up your motivation, how about getting a workout buddy and completing some fitness challenges to keep you both on your toes?
Many people find that working out with a friend or gym buddy makes them stick to their fitness goals much better than people who try it alone. If you skip a workout you’re not only letting yourself down (discounting genuine reasons like illness or injury), but you’ll be letting them down too, which is an extra incentive to keep going.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a competitive person, you’d be amazed how much having someone else there to encourage you can help you to keep going that bit longer or harder. While you should never push yourself to the point of overtraining or injury in pursuit of winning, progressive overload – meaning taxing your body a bit harder each time – is needed in order for you to progress.
Anything that helps you progress with your fitness has to be welcomed and fitness challenges are a great way of doing this.
Find a willing and enthusiastic partner (or bribe them with Valentines high-cocoa dark chocolates), and give these fun fitness challenges a go.
1) The Timed Challenge
Choose an exercise that you can do in significant numbers – ideally a body weight exercise since if you use a very heavy weight neither of you will get many reps in. Burpees are perfect but other ideas include jump squats, press ups and tricep dips.
Choose a number that is both challenging enough but achievable with effort, such as 30 burpees (it sounds a lot but hear me out!). Set a timer and see who can complete the set first. All moves have to be done with correct form and technique (no cheating or half-burpees!), and you can rest and take breaks as often as you need to.
The first person to finish the set wins!
Loved by schoolkids and pub goers alike, this classic challenge is both fun and competitive. Sit opposite sides to your partner across a small table and each place one elbow on the table, hands pointing upwards (you’ll need to both choose either left or right hand – and preferably are both either left or right handed naturally to make it fair). Grasp hands and push against each others’ hand, aiming to bend your partners arm back down until it touches the table, while they push against you with the same goal. Whoever’s back of hand touches the table first loses.
3) Plank hold for time
Similar to the Timed Challenge, but with no set time or number to aim for. Both partners get into a plank position and hold for as long as possible. This is simple and safe enough to even do in smaller spaces at home since you’re not moving about and there’s not much chance of knocking into things or each other. Try it when the TV is on and you might find the distraction helps you both to hold for longer too!
4) Running Race
Just like you did at school, but without the unflattering nylon shorts! Set a start and finish line, and race to the end. Make sure the area you choose is safe with no cars or other dangerous obstructions in the way. An open playing field or park is perfect, or some treadmills have a set distance function so you can fix the length of the race manually even in an indoor gym setting.
5) Maze Escape
If you can get to a good maze this is excellent fun. Both make your way to the middle of the maze, then race to get out. This works best if it’s both a challenging maze and unfamiliar to you both, so no one has a fair advantage and it’s not too easy or over too quickly.
6) As Many Reps as Possible
Similar to the Timed Challenge only this time it’s not the number of reps that’s set but the time to complete them in, with the challenge being to complete as many reps as possible within a set time. For example how many you can do in 2 minutes. Squats, kettlebell swings or walking lunges if you have enough space all work well. The caveat is every exercise has to be done correctly with perfect form. Half squats don’t count!
You can keep the momentum going by keeping score cards of the results and noting changes each week as you both progress and get fitter and stronger. That way it doesn’t matter who scores highest; if you’re both improving and making progress, you’re both winners!
And if you both don’t fancy a workout today, I can think of other ways to work up a sweat……😉