Ways exercise and physical activity can improve sexual health

Ways exercise and physical activity can improve sexual health

by: Danielle Elaine

Danielle is a NASM certified personal trainer and has worked in the industry for almost a decade. She is also a Certified Weightlifting Performance Coach, Precision Nutrition Certified and Pre/Post-Natal Certified. For more information visit GetFitwithDanielle.com

It's no surprise, as fitness and sexual health are intertwined. Throughout the menstrual cycle, exercise can play a vital role in improving various aspects of sexual well-being.

From stress reduction to hormone regulation, increased arousal to greater stamina, exercise offers a plethora of benefits that directly impact sexual health. By understanding the connection between exercise and hormonal changes during each phase of the menstrual cycle, individuals can tailor their workouts to optimize both physical fitness and sexual satisfaction.

Benefits of Physical Activity

  • Stress reduction - It is well known that physical activity lowers stress levels. High levels of stress can lower sex drive and even hinder the ability to orgasm. 

  • Hormone regulation - Working out helps balance hormones like dopamine, serotonin and testosterone that regulate sex drive. Additionally exercise can increase estrogen in women and folks with vaginas, which is crucial for people entering menopause as they may experience a loss of vaginal lubrication and elasticity.

  • Increased arousal - Working out improves blood flow generally which can help maintain an erection of a penis. In general physical activity produces an increase in an enzyme that elicits blood flow to the genitals and enhances arousal. So a well timed workout right before a sexual encounter can intensify pleasure. 

  • Higher stamina - Increased cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance work to improve stamina which can only help you in the bedroom. 

  • More confidence - We probably all have a little easier time getting turned on when we are confident in our bodies and what makes you more confident than feeling strong and healthy, whatever that means to you.

  • Greater strength and flexibility - The strength and flexibility that you gain from a regular fitness program can allow you to be a little more adventurous between the sheets - or on the couch, in the kitchen… it’s your adventure, so who knows?

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What kinds of exercises should I be doing to improve my sex life? 

A strong core, strong glutes, high stamina and open hips are helpful for good sex. And if you are the adventurous type and want to attempt some new positions, upper body strength won’t hurt either. Some suggested exercises to target these areas are: 

Planks - Any variation of plank works. You can do them from an extended arm or forearm. You can also do them from your knees to start.To make this movement more challenging you can decrease your points of contact with the floor by lifting one limb at a time. 

Hip thrusts - This one may seem pretty obvious as a choice since it essentially mimics the thrust during intercourse.  Depending on your desired challenge level, hip thrusts can be performed with or without weight, with both legs or with single legs, or with your back or your feet lifted.

HIIT training - High Intensity Interval Training describes the type of cardio training that alternates getting your heart rate up for a short period of time and resting to let it come back down a little before taking it back up again. Any type of movement works for HIIT training as long as you can do it safely at a high speed. HIIT style training can improve our cardiovascular health.

Lunge twists - Lunge twists are great for mobility because they really open up your hips as well as focus on the thoracic spine mobility. 

Dips - Depending on your preferred positions you may want the upper body strength to hold your own body weight and dips are the perfect exercise for this. You can dip from a bench or chair or couch with bent knees or extended legs. 


Read: Is exercise sabotaging my vaginal health?


How to Exercise During Your Cycle

Menstrual Phase (Days 1-5):

  • Exercise Focus: During the menstrual phase, focus on gentle exercises that alleviate discomfort and fatigue.
  • Recommended Exercises:
    • Light walking or gentle yoga to ease cramps and promote relaxation.
    • Pilates to strengthen core muscles without straining the body.
    • Swimming for low-impact cardiovascular activity and muscle relaxation.


Follicular Phase (Days 6-14):

  • Exercise Focus: As estrogen levels rise, energy levels increase, making it an optimal time for higher intensity workouts.
  • Recommended Exercises:
    • Strength training to build muscle and endurance.
    • Cardiovascular activities like running, cycling, or dancing for increased stamina.
    • HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) for efficient calorie burning and metabolism boosting.


Ovulation Phase (Days 15-17):

  • Exercise Focus: Estrogen and testosterone levels peak, enhancing energy and performance.
  • Recommended Exercises:
    • Take advantage of increased energy levels by engaging in challenging workouts.
    • Aim for intense cardio sessions or strength training to push your limits.


Luteal Phase (Days 18-28):

  • Exercise Focus: As progesterone levels rise, energy levels may dip, and premenstrual symptoms may emerge.
  • Recommended Exercises:
    • Focus on moderate-intensity exercises to manage mood swings and fatigue.
    • Opt for activities that promote relaxation and stress relief.
    • Incorporate yoga, tai chi, or gentle stretching to alleviate tension and discomfort.


General Tips:

  1. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how you feel throughout your cycle and adjust your workout intensity accordingly.
  2. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to stay hydrated, especially during menstruation.
  3. Prioritize Rest: Allow yourself adequate rest and recovery time, especially during menstruation and the luteal phase when energy levels may be lower.
  4. Focus on Nutrition: Eat a balanced diet rich in nutrients to support your body's needs throughout your menstrual cycle.


Whether it's gentle exercises during menstruation or high-intensity workouts during ovulation, listening to your body and adapting your fitness routine accordingly can lead to a healthier, more fulfilling sex life. 

Related Reading 

A Gut Feeling: How Stress Affects Your (Vaginal) Microbiome
Demystifying vaginal pH: everything you need to know
5 Ways to Feel More Confident Naked 
7 Simple Ideas to Sexify Your Self Care Routine
Eating Disorders, Anxiety & Depression 
Is It Possible to Prevent Vaginal Irritation — For Good?


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