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Effect of Exercise on Sex Drive

author image Ozzie Jacobs
Based in Los Angeles, Ozzie Jacobs has been writing fitness articles since 2008, with work featured in various online publications. Jacobs holds an M.B.A. from Florida A&M University and an M.S. in exercise science from California University of Pennsylvania.
Effect of Exercise on Sex Drive
A man and woman are kissing under the covers. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The goal of exercise is to obtain a healthier lifestyle. Exercise is a powerful tool in the development of muscular strength, cardiovascular fitness, mind-body coordination and stress relief. Exercise also has been proven to increase sex drive for men and women.

Facts for Men

Exercise has positive effects on the sex drives of men. A 1990 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior revealed that men participating in exercise (60 minutes per day, three to five days a week, with a peak sustained intensity of 75 percent to 80 percent) developed “significantly greater sexual enhancements ” (e.g. frequency of various intimate activities, reliability of adequate functioning during sex, percentage of satisfying orgasms).

Facts for Women

Exercise has positive effects on women's sex drives as well. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine revealed that intense, short-duration exercise (20 minutes with a target heart rate of 70 percent) significantly enhances the physiological sexual arousal of women (i.e. genital arousal). An additional study published in a 2007 issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine discovered a link between increased body awareness and increased perceptions of arousal. The researchers concluded: “Exercise could feasibly increase body awareness via increased bodily sensations (e.g., increased heartbeat and muscle tension)."

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It is well known that exercise increases energy, reduces stress, improves performance, aids in weight loss and helps prevent injury. The positive contribution that exercise has toward the male and female sex drive can be an appealing motivator for the sedentary individual. The aesthetic gains (e.g. reduced waist line, firm thighs, shapely rear end and overall body tone/definition) from exercise often lead to greater self-esteem, which may develop into a greater interest in sex.


Increasing sex drive can be one goal of an exercise program, but it would be wise to incorporate additional goals (e.g. stamina, strength, balance and stress relief) so that the exercise program stays relevant and timely. The goal of enhancing sex drive may not be appropriate for all individuals given their relationship status, age and emotional maturity.


Couples in healthy relationships can consider utilizing exercise as a tool to enhance the sexual aspect of their relationship. This could lead to increased motivation and compliance with an exercise program. As the frequency and duration of intimate encounters increases, sex can serve as a cardiovascular activity included in the fitness program.

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  • Archives of Sexual Behavior; JR White et al; June 1990
  • Journal of Sexual Medicine; “The roles of testosterone and alpha-amylase in exercise-induced sexual arousal in women”; L. Dawn et al; April 2008
  • Journal of Sexual Medicine; "The impact of body awareness on sexual arousal in women with sexual dysfunction”; B.N. Seal and C.M. Meston; July 2007
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