According to Dr. Paul Pearsall, author of Superimmunity, having sex boosts chemicals in the body that fight disease. A little action between the sheets can also help ease joint and muscle pain, combat depression, improve heart health and increase your life span. Who knew?
But for good sex, it's important to maintain an active lifestyle, according to a study from Bentley College in Massachusetts. Their research found that women who are physically active engage in sex more often than do their more sedentary peers.
Because sex requires endurance, cardio and strength training can help both partners perform longer and more often. The Bentley researchers concluded that 30 minutes of cardio three times a week can help build endurance for more prolonged (and hopefully more enjoyable) sex. Pushups, situps and crunches were found to tone abs and chest muscles most frequently used during sexual intercourse.
Hit the Gym before Hitting the Sheets
"If you want to improve your sex drive, there's no better way to do it than exercising," says psychologist and certified sex therapist Dr. David Yarian. "Just a 20-minute brisk walk each day will really go a long way."
There are even specific stretches and other toning exercises that can help improve sexual performance of both men and women, such as the Kegel exercise women can do for the PC, or "love" muscle. Dr. Yarian says yoga is another great way both men and women can feel more relaxed and comfortable with their bodies.
"Yoga helps us inhabit our bodies more fully, which adds to relaxation," he says. "Sex is not as fulfilling when you're stressed. That's why many people enjoy it more during vacation. They're relaxed, and relaxation is very important to feeling desirable."
Does eating oysters actually increase your sex drive? Studies have shown that shellfish such as oysters, shrimp, lobster and clams, as well as cold-water fish like cod and halibut, are rich in zinc and iodine, which can boost sex drive. Zinc may be essential for testosterone production in men and women.
But the jury is still out on oysters, as well as any food groups for their aphrodisiac qualities, according to Dr. Yarian.
"There haven't been any definitive studies to prove that certain foods can increase your sex drive," he says. "Some researchers have found that diet affects sexual activity, while others have found no connection. Of course, there are thousands of years of folklore that say these foods work. There just needs to be more research to prove it."
While many aphrodisiacs still lack scientific research, health publications tout food as a gateway to great sex. A recent article in Discovery Health suggests that nutrition plays a vital role in lovemaking, and that the quality of our diet can determine the quality of our sex lives. (Of course, it doesn't hurt if that diet takes the form of a romantic, sensual dinner.)
To boost sexual energy and keep those erotic body parts in peak condition, try eating meals rich in fruits and vegetables, says Chris Meletis, chief medical officer of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine. Carbs should be the centerpiece of a sexually healthy diet, with about 20-30 percent devoted to lean proteins.
WORK THAT LOVE MUSCLE!
The Kegel exercise, invented by Dr. Arnold Kegel, works the pubococcygeus in the pelvic area, also known as the PC, or "love muscle." This muscle is what men and women use to control and stop the flow of urination."
If your PC muscle is too tense, it can affect your sexual arousal," says Dr. David Yarian, psychologist and certified sex therapist. "Just 10 percent tension in that region decreases your blood flow by 50 percent, and you need blood flow for sexual sensitivity. You can carry tension there without even knowing it."
To tone this love muscle, it is necessary to clench and relax it (see www.sex-project.com for an illustration). Try contracting the muscle and holding it for a count of 10, then relax. Repeat this 10 times and work your way up from there. And don't forget to work that muscle with your partner!
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