Exercising by practicing yoga in a cobra pose on a wooden floor
Illustration by Marta Pucci

How Physical Exercise Affects Your Sex Drive

Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Katherine Hertlein,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
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Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Laura Vowels,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
Last updated:

The World Health Organization recommends that adults aged between 18 and 64 should aim to get between 75 and 300 minutes of exercise every week. This plays a vital role in keeping you happy, fit, and healthy. It is also a great way to take a break from the stresses and strains of everyday life.

However, exercise doesn't just benefit your fitness and your waistline. In fact, it can have a huge effect on your libido.

If you (like many people around the world) are experiencing low libido, then you might be wondering how to improve your sex drive. Well, exercise can help!

Read on to find out exactly how, along with your therapy, regular exercise could help improve your sex drive.

Mind-body connection

For some reason this phrase can take your mind to a hippie dippie space, when actually, of course your brain and body are connected. Ever felt a little sick with nerves before a school play? Or struggled to think at work when you're feeling hungry? That's the connection. The same goes for libido problems; if your mind is elsewhere, not in the mood or feeling anxious, it has an effect on your body. This is why you may struggle to feel physically aroused when you're not feeling in the mood.

Working on your body will do a lot of great things, but you need to work on your mind and body together. This is the key lesson in Sensate Focus, a technique used by millions to overcome libido issues.

Regular exercise can boost your energy levels

Feeling fresh and energized can have a huge impact on your libido. After all, if you are tired at the end of the day, you are much less likely to want to have sex. So doing a little exercise every day will leave you feeling more ready to enjoy an intimate night with your partner.

To understand this, let's take a look at how your body produces energy.

Mitochondria are microscopic organelles found in every cell of your body. They play a vital role in energy production within your cells. The more mitochondria you have, the more energy you produce.

What you eat and how much you exercise directly affect how many mitochondria you produce.

Basically, the more you exercise, the more mitochondria you have. This means that you have more energy because your body responds to exercise by creating more ways to generate energy.

Exercising releases feel-good chemicals

Understandably, your mental health can have a huge impact on your libido. Feeling low, self-conscious, or anxious can immediately kill the mood. Exercise can help to combat these feelings, leaving you happier overall.

This is because your body releases chemicals during and after exercise. These include:

  • Endorphins
  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine

These affect the neurotransmitters in your brain that are responsible for your mood. When your brain is flooded with these chemicals, this triggers positive feelings throughout your body. This can be especially helpful if you are struggling with depression.

These natural feel-good hormones are a great way to boost your confidence and will make you feel better about your body in general. This makes them vital if you want to know how to improve your sex drive naturally.

Endorphins can aid recovery

As well as making you feel happy and confident, endorphins also help to relieve pain and help your body handle certain conditions. This can be very helpful if you are recovering from an injury or if you have a chronic or painful condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome or constipation.

Exercising shortly before any sort of sexual activity means that your endorphin levels will be high. If chronic pain is an issue for you or your partner, it is a good idea to start things slowly. Building up gradually to sexual activities and using plenty of lube.

75% of women will experience pain during sex at some point in their lives. Obviously, this can have a huge impact on your libido and it is important to speak to your doctor about your symptoms. If you find that you are experiencing pain during sex, you should stop immediately.

Exercise and how to improve sex drive in men

How to improve your sex drive as a man can be very closely linked to how active you are. This is because exercising boosts your testosterone levels, which increase your feelings of desire.

However, your testosterone levels won't remain high all day after you exercise. Generally, they will stay up for between 15 minutes and one hour after you finish exercising.

That said, exercising regularly and staying in shape can boost your body image and your sexual stamina. This means you will feel more confident when engaging in sexual activity with your partner.

How does exercising affect women's libido?

There are several ways that exercising can benefit women's libido. As well as benefiting your confidence and the relationship you have with your body, exercise also reduces stress. This is one of the biggest libido killers for both all genders.

This is partly due to the endorphins released during exercise. However, exercising also gives women an opportunity to take a break during their day. This is a time to focus on yourself and really take care of your body, so it's natural that you'll feel less stressed afterward.

Exercise can also boost women's testosterone levels as well. Let's take a look at how this works.

Strength training boosts testosterone levels

A lot of people mistakenly believe that testosterone is the "male" hormone. While men have higher levels of this hormone, it still plays a vital role in women's bodies as well.

In fact, this can have a big impact on your sex drive. Women's testosterone levels tend to peak during the menstrual cycle on the day of ovulation and this is when your sex drive will be highest. This happens because your body is trying to maximize your chances of becoming pregnant.

For both men and women, a drop in testosterone levels can significantly reduce your sex drive. Unfortunately, this creates a vicious cycle as sexual activity actually boosts your testosterone levels. So the more sex you have, the higher your libido will be.

Thankfully, sex isn't the only thing that can boost your testosterone levels. Strength training is actually one of the best ways to do this naturally. For the best effects you should focus on:

  • Working the major muscle groups in your body, especially your legs
  • Using heavier weights and doing fewer reps
  • Shortening how long you rest for between each set of reps

But strength training isn't the only exercise you should try when it comes to how to improve your sex drive. Let's take a look at some other great exercises that will also boost your libido.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

If you're looking for an intense workout, then HIIT is the thing for you. This involves working for short intense periods doing cardio. You have short rest breaks between sets.

HIIT workouts are particularly good at lowering your levels of cortisol, which is the stress-inducing hormone in your body. High levels of cortisol can lower your testosterone levels, so keeping this at bay can really boost your sex drive.


Yoga comes with all the benefits of other exercises, however, it can also do wonders for the connection between your mind and body. This involves creating energy flows through your body and improving your strength and flexibility.

If you already enjoy yoga, you might also want to try out tantra yoga. This is a branch of yoga that focuses on the physical connection that you have with a sexual partner. As you can imagine, it is very popular for people who want to spice things up a little! If that sounds like a bit much, read on...


Swimming is great exercise as it often feels gentle but works your entire body. It combines endurance training and cardio to leave you feeling fitter than ever. Swimming is also gentle on your joints so you are less likely to injure yourself while doing it.

A study by Havard showed that swimmers in their 60s enjoyed similar sex lives to non-swimming 40-year-olds. So it's definitely worth a try!

Kegel exercises

Kegel exercises are a great way for women to improve their sexual endurance and enjoyment. This is because they improve the blood circulation around your pelvic floor and vagina. This helps arousal and improve vaginal lubrication.

This simple exercise involves squeezing your pubococcygeus (PC) muscles. These are the same muscles that you use to control your flow of urine. To find them, try to stop your flow mid-pee.

Once you have found your PC muscles, you can practice tightening them. Simply squeeze them together and hold this for 10 seconds at a time. To maximize their impact, try to do at least 10 reps each time.

Choosing the right type of exercise for you

Whether you're looking for how to improve your sex drive, finding the right kind of exercise is vital. The ones mentioned above can all help to boost your libido.

That said, any regular activity will release endorphins and boost your energy levels, testosterone levels, and confidence. What's most important is to find something that you enjoy and want to do regularly. This will make introducing it to your schedule and sticking to your exercise regime much easier.

It is very important that you don't overdo it, particularly if you are trying out a certain type of exercise for the first time. Getting an injury certainly won't help your sex drive! So start off slow and ease your body into your new routine.

There are plenty of great ages to suit every age and ability. This isn't about becoming an Olympic athlete, it's just about getting your body moving.

Looking after yourself will always improve your personal life

Looking after your body helps to boost your long-term health and wellness overall. Regular exercise is a great way to embrace healthy habits and show your body some love.

Of course, exercise will take care of the physical side of things but it's also a good idea to look after your mental health too. In fact, your mind and body go hand in hand so this is a great time to look into therapy too. Getting support with your mental health can really help you set healthy goals and stick to your exercise regime.

Exercise working in tandem with sex therapy to improve your sex drive

When it comes to addressing your sexual desire, exercise can make a real difference. As well as relieving stress and boosting your confidence, it will also give your libido-inducing hormones a boost. To really reap the benefits of this, try to incorporate regular exercise into your routine in a way that is sustainable.

Improving the connection between your mind and your body is key to addressing libido problems, what's going on in your head is interfering with your body. The Blueheart app is sex therapy delivered digitally for people experiencing sex drive, libido or desire problems. Alongside a healthy lifestyle this course will help you reconnect with yourself and each other, allowing for more pleasurable sexual experiences and a closer relationship.

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