The movies would have you believe that sweaty, intense workouts lead to sweaty sex. But like many things perpetuated by TV and the big screen, that’s just not the case.
File this alongside chatting with your BFF during yoga and glowing like a Hadid post-indoor cycling class: strenuous exercise can actually lower your libido.
According to the New York Times, researchers, scientists, and doctors have debated the link between exercise, sexual desire, and human reproduction for decades. (We don’t blame them: Looking at sex is bound to be more exciting than examining the spread of superbugs.) A new study conducted at the University of North Carolina found a link between exercise and how often men thought about and had sex.
Published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the study looked at 1,100 adult men who identified themselves as athletes. That translated to cycling, long-distance running, and those who participated in triathlons. Then, researchers separated the guys into different groups based on how hard and long they worked out. Through online surveys, the research team asked the men questions about their sex drive, how often they actually had sex, and their interest in sex.
There was a clear pattern. After researchers looked at the data, they found that men who worked out at a “moderate to light” intensity and duration reported a higher sex drive than the men who reported “prolonged” and “intense” workouts.
“Strenuous exercise was associated with lower libido,” Anthony Hackney, professor of exercise physiology and nutrition at the University of North Carolina, told the Times.
Hackney clarifies that the study doesn’t necessarily mean that too much exercise can actually lower libido — the data only showed a connection. It also doesn’t explain why the libido is affected, but Hackney has a few ideas. Physical fatigue and testosterone levels, which dip after an intense workout, can play a role.