Working out has many benefits. It helps to keep you in shape, reduces the risk of heart disease, improves your mental health and mood, and also helps your body manage your insulin and blood sugar levels. But along with this, another important benefit of working out is that it helps improve sex drive. This is because exercise is known to produce the feel-good chemicals endorphins and lower cortisol levels, which helps reduce stress and maintain a healthy sex drive. But just like anything done in excess is not good, too much intense exercise can, on the contrary, kill your libido, at least that is what research says.
As per a research conducted on around 1100 men over the age of 18, by the researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, it was found that men who undertook low-intensity workouts had a 7% lesser chance of suffering from a low libido than men who undertook high-intensity workouts. The factors on which the men were surveyed included their exercise habits and sexual history, including fantasies, desire, attractions, sexual appetite, and sexual activity.
The study mainly focused on endurance exercises, also known as aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, swimming, and biking. Endurance activities help to keep the heart, lungs, and circulatory system healthy while helping improve overall fitness. The men surveyed were cyclists, runners, or amateurs in endurance activities, who were then divided into groups based on short or long workouts, light, moderate, and intense training and sexual desires like high, medium, or low libidos.
As per the study, the men who worked out the hardest for the longest period were more likely to suffer from low libido. This might happen because too much working out leads to suppressing the hormone testosterone and luteinizing hormone, leading to a condition known as exercise hypogonadal male condition. Also, too much fatigue ( both mental and physical) that happens from excessive workouts can kill one’s interest in sex or sexual activities.
Since exercise has been known to help treat male infertility by boosting sperm quality and quantity, the researchers made a recommendation based on their findings to the fertility clinics, on advising men on the level of endurance training that they should undertake, since too much of it can again affect their fertility issues adversely.
Also, it is important to keep in mind that this study was conducted on men who were already into an exercising regime and not on sedentary men in whose case, even the slightest workout can help pump up levels of testosterone hormone. The low libido problem was mainly with men who went on exercising too hard for too long. As per Reuters Health, of the men who reported low libido, 47% of them exercised more than ten times a week while 65% spent more than 10 hours a week working out. Also, it was found that amongst all the forms of endurance exercises, running was the most popular amongst all the participants.
So does that mean if you find problems with your libido, you should stop exercising? Well, as per health experts, absolutely not. Moderate exercising, on the other hand, has many health benefits including helping improve your stamina, lowering levels of depression and anxiety, improving your sperm quality as well as preventing erectile dysfunction, all of which help improve your sexual functioning. Since a low interest in sex can be for many reasons like relationship problems or low testosterone levels, the best thing would be to visit your doctor to find out the most probable cause.
Apart from moderate exercising, eating a healthy and nutritious diet, getting good quality sleep, maintaining a healthy weight, and undertaking stress-relieving activities like meditation and yoga, also helps improve your sexual desires or libido.
Medically reviewed by Rishabh Verma, RP