The benefits of sexercise and how to practice it
Medically reviewed by Janet Brito, Ph.D., LCSW, CST — Written by Zawn Villines on December 13, 2020
This article is a repost which originally appeared on MEDICALNEWSTODAY
Edited for content
Sexercise is exercise to improve sexual performance and function, which may make sex more satisfying for a person and their partner or partners.
Celebrity trainer Jason Rosell coined the term sexercise, using it for a specific set of practices to improve a person’s sexual experience.
Physical fitness can affect sexuality by making sex easier and more comfortable, reducing the risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) and arousal issues, and helping people feel more confident in their bodies.
Exercise may also reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, that can cause sexual issues.
A person may use the term sexercise to refer to a wide range of activities, while any exercise specifically to improve sex counts as sexercise.
Benefits of sexual activity for health
Healthful, consensual sexual activity of all varieties can improve health.
Some benefits of sex include:
- Better heart health: Sex involves exercise, which can improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and decreasing the risk of heart disease. A 2020 study found that, following a heart attack, people who had sex more than once per week had a 27% reduction in their risk of dying.
- A healthier immune system: Regular sex may boost immunity, reducing a person’s risk of acquiring infections and certain illnesses.
- Better emotional health: Sex – and the exercise that sex involves – may reduce the risk of depression and anxiety.
- Better self-esteem: People who have satisfying sex may feel good about themselves.
- Healthy relationships: A strong, healthy sexual connection with a partner may improve the relationship.
- Better sleep: Sex may help some people fall asleep faster.
- Stress management: Sex can be a suitable self-care tool that helps relieve stress.
It is important to note that sex in itself does not necessarily improve health.
Non-consensual, painful, or unpleasant sex may cause severe emotional distress, physical injuries, and other health issues.
Benefits of fitness for sexual performance
Exercise can improve sexual performance in many ways:
- Reducing ED: In people with penises, regular exercise – especially aerobic exercise such as running or walking – may reduce ED. A 2017 meta-analysis found moderate to high-intensity aerobic exercise provided optimal benefits.
- Counteracting side effects of certain antidepressants on the libido: A 2013 study of females taking antidepressants found that exercising right before sex improved both arousal and global sexual function.
- Exercise may reduce the risk of chronic medical conditions: These conditions can interfere with sexual performance. For example, diabetes has links with ED, arousal disorders, and some other sexual issues.
- Improving sexual function: Certain exercises may strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which a person uses during sex. Kegel exercises can help a person orgasm more easily and help with urine leakage and incontinence.
- Increasing endurance and strength: This may make certain positions and types of sex easier. More endurance may help a person be less tired during prolonged sex sessions.
Exercises to improve sexual performance
Three categories of exercise can help improve sexual performance:
Aerobic exercise increases the heart rate. It can help a person maintain a moderate weight, improve blood pressure, boost overall physical fitness, and may help with ED and general sexual performance. Some exercises to try include:
- Swimming: Offers an intense but low-impact workout for people with joint or muscle pain.
- Walking: An ideal starting exercise for people who struggle with more intense workouts.
- Intense aerobic exercise: Includes running or jogging, jumping rope, skiing, and using a stair-climber machine.
Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises strengthen the pelvic floor – a group of muscles that support the bladder. These muscles also contract during an orgasm. Try the following to work them:
- Performing Kegels:
- Locate the right muscles when urinating.
- Stop passing urine mid-flow for a few seconds, then start again.
- Repeat a few times daily.
- Next, try tensing and releasing the same muscles used to stop urinating several times per day.
- Work up to tensing the muscles for longer: 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 30 seconds, or longer.
- Exercising the multifidus of the pelvic floor:
- Lie on the stomach, face down, with the forehead in the hands.
- Lift the pelvis slightly back to point the tailbone toward the ceiling.
- Hold for 5–10 seconds, working up to three sets of 10 repetitions.
- Performing squats: Squats help strengthen the body, and in high repetitions, they can provide an intense cardio workout. They also help strengthen the abs and pelvic floor. Not everyone can do a squat at first. Try squatting down as much as possible without bending the back or taking the heels off the floor, then build up to deeper squats.
Strength and flexibility training
Improving general strength and flexibility may make certain sexual positions easier and more comfortable. Some options include:
- Yoga and pilates: Both focus activities on improving flexibility and functional movement. People can even adapt some yoga positions into sex positions.
- Lifting weights: Try lifting weights to improve the strength of various muscles and muscle groups. For example, a person who wants to lift their partner might try bench presses and other exercises that strengthen the upper body.
- Bodyweight exercises: A person does not need weights to strengthen their muscles. Bodyweight exercises, such as leg raises, knee tucks, and squats strengthen the core, lower body, and pelvic floor. Pushups, pullups, and dips target the upper body, potentially making certain positions easier.
Sex positions that couples can use as exercise
Every sex position may present an opportunity for exercise if it meets one of two conditions:
- The speed and intensity of the sexual activity are intense enough to elevate the heart rate.
- The activity is physically challenging. For example, it requires stretching or involves a person lifting additional weight.
Some examples of specific positions that might help sexual partners get a workout include:
- Positions that require a partner to fully or partially lift another: For example, a person who wraps their legs around a partner while the partner holds them in a standing position requires both partners to bear extra weight.
- Positions that increase physical intensity and encourage partners to move more: For example, if a person is up against the wall with their legs wrapped around their partner, and the other partner is holding them, the couple is both supporting weights. They may also have to move more to increase stimulation and adjust the position.
- Positions that encourage gentle stretching: It is important not to force the body into an uncomfortable position. However, extending the legs over a partner’s shoulders or getting into yoga-like positions may increase the challenge of sexual activity.
Exercise is great for overall health, including sexual health.
For most people, exercise is a safe way to improve well-being and sexual performance.
However, those who do not exercise should talk with a doctor before beginning a new fitness routine.
- Adeniyi, F., et al. (2010). Diabetes, sexual dysfunction, and therapeutic exercise: A 20 year review [Abstract].
- Diamond, L. M., et al. (2012). Is good sex good for you? Rethinking sexuality and health [Abstract].
- Kepler, S. B., et al. (2020). Frequency of sexual activity and long-term survival after acute myocardial infarction [Abstract].
- Lorenz, T. A., et al. (2013). Exercise improves sexual function in women taking antidepressants: Results from a randomized crossover trial [Abstract].
- Pelvic floor muscle (Kegel) exercises for women to improve sexual health. (2018).
- Silva, A. B., et al. (2017). Physical activity and exercise for erectile dysfunction: Systematic review and meta-analysis [Abstract].
- The benefits of a healthy sex life. (n.d.).