These workouts boost sexual performance

By Charlie Williams
Published February 12, 2021

Key Takeaways

We all know that physical activity is good for us, but it’s easy to forget just how important it can be. Plain and simple, exercise is beneficial for all kinds of health—not only physical and mental well-being, but sexual health, too.

And it goes both ways. Sex can improve your health and quality of life, with studies showing some surprising benefits, including improvements in memory, heart health, blood pressure, mental health, pair-bonding, and more. 

But back to exercise. There’s no doubt that getting in better shape can boost your abilities in the bedroom, and if you want to ensure your partner gets to experience your best self when the lights go down, try exercising. Read on to find out why exercise is scientifically proven to improve sexual performance for both men and women.

Why cardio and sex go hand-in-hand

Whether or not “going all night long” aligns with your sexual fantasies, solid cardiovascular health is the foundation of sex. In fact, making love is an aerobic exercise that elevates your heart rate, blood pressure, and your heart’s demand for oxygen—especially in the 10 to 15 seconds during orgasm. Regular cardio sessions have the same physiological effects, leaving you more fit to rise to the occasion when it’s time for a little love.

Good cardiovascular health is also essential for men who want to maintain an erection—and having erectile dysfunction (ED) all but prevents men from enjoying or even having sex in the first place. ED can be caused by a variety of cardiovascular and other health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, prostate cancer, low levels of physical activity, and more, according to the Mayo Clinic.

So can exercise improve ED? One study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, looked at whether exercise is linked with improved sexual and erectile function in African American men—who had been underrepresented in the literature—and to define a minimum exercise benchmark for better erectile/sexual function. Nearly 300 participants self-reported their activity levels and sexual function. Findings showed that men who reported more frequent exercise (≥18 MET [metabolic equivalents] hours/week) had higher sexual function scores, regardless of race.

In women, past cardiovascular disease is linked to lower sexual desire. In a study published in Clinics, investigators found that all domains of sexual function, including arousal, vaginal lubrication, orgasm, sexual dissatisfaction, and pain, were all negatively affected in women with previous heart disease.

A literature review, published in Sexual Medicine Reviews in 2018, looked at the effects of both acute and chronic exercise on sexual function in women. The authors concluded, “Improvements in physiological sexual arousal following acute exercise appear to be driven by increases in sympathetic nervous system activity and endocrine factors. Chronic exercise likely enhances sexual satisfaction indirectly by preserving autonomic flexibility, which benefits cardiovascular health and mood.”

So cardio exercise is a good place to start, if you want to improve your sex life. But if cardio seems like a huge hill to climb, your best bet is to start small, according to the Mayo Clinic. That’s because, when it comes to your heart, any activity is better than no activity at all. Break an exercise slump by going on brief 5-minute walks in the morning and evening, increasing your walking time and pace until you can comfortably handle a brisk pace for at least half an hour.

Already in decent shape and looking to impress your significant other? Try these proven cardiovascular health-boosting tactics. Of particular note: High-intensity interval training burns fat and cuts lean muscle as effectively and more efficiently than hour-long jogs around the block.

For males dealing with ED, try some of these exercises for erectile dysfunction.

All about the core

When we think about core workouts, many of us assume it’s all about the grueling haul toward a set of six-pack abs. And while the abdominals are an essential part of our core, there’s much more to our midsections, including our glutes, obliques, hips, and lower back muscles—all of which play indispensable roles in sexual activity.

For starters, core exercises get the blood flowing to our midsections, where most of the magic of sex takes place. But perhaps more importantly, tightening up the core can improve stamina and reduce the risk of injury during sex, which increases as more people live sedentary lifestyles. Sitting for long periods not only makes us fatter and reduces blood flow, it weakens our core muscles. When the moment strikes, a weak and tired midsection leaves you prone to injury—and a thrown-out lower back is no one’s idea of an aphrodisiac.

Beyond sit-ups, planks, and squats, try these lower back exercises to improve your sex life.


The more you can twist, turn, stretch, and bend—without falling off the bed, of course—the more the wide world of sex opens up to you. Yoga has been helping human beings improve their flexibility, strength, and balance for millennia, and now, thanks to the wonders of modern science, we know that the ancient practice can lead to better sex. 

In a study of 65 males enrolled in a yoga camp, investigators found that yoga improved self-reported sexual function scores across the board, bolstering sexual desire, satisfaction, performance, confidence, partner synchronization, erection, ejaculatory control, and orgasm in the study subjects.

The authors conducted a similar study in a group of 40 women, uncovering comparable beneficial results. Following 12 weeks of practice at a yoga camp, study subjects reported improvement in all six domains of sexual function: sexual desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain. Older women (>45 years of age) experienced even more significant improvements than younger women.

Ready to dive into your first yoga session? Or are you looking to take your downward dog to the next level? Either way, a simple YouTube search for the term “yoga” can set you on your journey to better sex.


Also known as pelvic floor exercises, Kegels strengthen muscles in our nether regions, including those that support our bladders, small intestines, and rectums. In women, Kegels also support the uterus, and in both men and women, Kegels have been shown to affect sexual function, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, investigators randomly assigned 145 postmenopausal women to three cohorts: one to receive formal sex education, another to practice regular Kegel exercises, and another to undergo routine postmenopausal care. After 12 weeks, each group completed the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) questionnaire. Researchers discovered that women in the Kegel groups scored much higher on arousal, orgasms, and sexual satisfaction compared with controls.

Another study published in the journal Enfermería Clínica arrived at similar results. A group of 32 women who had given birth at least once measured their sexual self-efficacy three times: once prior to practicing 6 weeks of Kegel exercises, once after three weeks of Kegels, and once after the 6-week intervention period. Study authors found that Kegel practice was associated with significant improvements in sexual self-efficacy, and concluded that women should be encouraged to perform Kegel exercises to address sexual concerns in the postpartum period.

Want to give Kegels a go? Try these tips from the Mayo Clinic.

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