A sudden dip in sex drive can be disturbing, particularly if you don’t know what’s causing it. Testosterone levels are typically a big factor, but late nights, long hours at work, and underlying relationship issues can all impact libido.
While it may be tempting to reach for a pill, the quickest fix isn’t always the most effective one. In my practice, I’ve seen a lot of patients make big improvements in their sexual health simply by implementing changes to their diet or workout routine.
Exercise is without a doubt one of the best things you can do for your body and mind, enhancing your performance not just on the athletic field but everywhere—from the boardroom to the bedroom. Here are my top five exercises to boost libido.
1. Weight Lifting
Science suggests lifting weights improves sex drive by encouraging your body to produce more testosterone. Since healthy testosterone levels are associated with sexual desire, doing exercises that can increase testosterone may also amp up your libido.
If you already do some type of strength training as part of your fitness routine, some minor tweaks may be all you need to ensure you’re maximizing your testosterone-producing potential. Experts suggest the following three tips to get the most out of your weight lifting session:
- Working all the major muscle groups, especially your legs (the largest in the body)
- Doing fewer reps with heavier weights
- Shortening your rest time between sets
2. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves alternating between going as hard as you can, then resting for a short period. HIIT is one of the most effective fat-burning workouts you can do, and it can also bump up your libido.
Intense cardiovascular exercise like HIIT is an excellent way to blow off steam because it lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol in your body. Elevated cortisol has been shown to significantly reduce testosterone, so keeping your stress in check is crucial for maintaining a healthy sex drive.
The number of American men doing yoga grew from 4 million in 2012 to 10 million in 2016. Why are guys suddenly so interested in yoga? Maybe because they’re catching on to the many health benefits this practice provides—including improved sexual health.
Tantra yoga is the kind most commonly associated with sex (and Sting). With its focus on getting in touch with your body and/or connecting with a partner, tantra yoga has a long history of use among couples looking to spice things up in the bedroom. But because all yoga involves stretching and getting your energy flowing, any type of yoga practice has the potential to improve your libido. It also helps with flexibility, which your partner(s) will likely appreciate.
Want to enhance your endurance, build muscle, and get a great cardio workout? Go for a swim. Swimming is one of the most efficient ways to improve overall fitness, all without the wear and tear on your joints that comes from running and other high-impact workouts.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the kind of fitness that comes from swimming regularly can really give you a leg up in the bedroom. In a Harvard study of 160 swimmers, participants in their 60s reported sex lives comparable to average, non-swimming people in their 40s.
You may think of kegels as an exercise for women (if you think of them at all), but this squeezing of your pubococcygeus (PC) muscles—the ones you use to stop the flow of urine mid-stream—can lead to better sexual endurance and control.
How do you do a kegel exercise? The first step is to get a feel for your PC muscles by stopping and starting while you urinate. Once you’ve identified the sensation of a kegel exercise, you can do them any time. Tightly squeeze your PC muscles and hold for 10 seconds, then release for as many reps as you can manage.
Don’t Forget to Rest
Keep in mind that it is possible to overdo it when it comes to exercise, and working out too hard may actually decrease testosterone. In other words, don’t skip those rest days!
Want to learn from a team of top experts about how to improve your sexual health across a wide range of common issues? Register now for the free online Sexual Vitality Summit that I am taking part in from September 23 – 29th, 2019.
Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher and researcher on faculty of two major medical centers, he has led the charge for a more proactive, holistic and personalized approach to care that focuses on cutting edge technology and preventative care. Dr. Spar has traveled with the NBA, presented a TEDx Talk, appeared on Dr. Oz, and been featured in publications such as the Men’s Journal and the Los Angeles Times.