With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought I’d take a step back and look at the lighter side of health for a moment or two.
Yep, you guessed it! (Or maybe you didn’t?)
While most of you are likely aware that sex can have a positive impact on your mental health and well-being, there is actually some interesting research suggesting that it can have some key effects on your physical health, too, including the aspect of physical health I study: your muscles.
Healthy Sex Life = Healthy Muscles for Life?
The specific research I am talking about this actually goes back to a recent study that looked into the role that sex plays in the maintenance of muscle health.
To put it as simply as I can, the researchers of this study chose to take an in-depth look at the sexual history of around 100 men. They then used this information to see if it had any links with a muscle-related disease known as sarcopenia.
For those of you not in the know, sarcopenia describes a disease typified by age-related muscle wastage.
Now, as you might have guessed, they found something of serious interest!
Those men who had less sex were also much more likely to suffer from both erectile dysfunction and sarcopenia.
Basically, the men who had more sex had healthier muscles as they aged than those who did not.
But why in the world should this be the case?
The Health Benefits of Love Making: How Does Sex Influence Your Muscle Health?
This unique study got me thinking: “How the heck could sex improve your muscle health?”
So, I did some research, and it looks as if it likely comes down to 3 key factors.
- improves your hormones
- improves your blood flow
- impacts weight management
Sex Improves Your Hormones
There is some rather unique evidence demonstrating that those men who partake in intercourse more often have higher levels of testosterone floating around in their bodies.
And, as you are likely aware, testosterone is the most anabolic hormone on the planet, which means that it is absolutely essential to the growth and development of new muscle tissue.
It is unsurprising, then, that reductions in testosterone levels are firmly associated with declines in muscle health, muscle strength and, subsequently, functional capacity.
Sex may, therefore, play an important role in protecting your muscles by helping you keep your testosterone levels high!
Sex Improves Your Blood Flow
Did you know that there is research suggesting that sex should be considered a form of moderate intensity physical activity?
While the basic premise of this argument is that both foreplay and the act of intercourse itself require you to engage in stretching and movement, there is also a little bit more to this story that deserves attention.
You see, sex leads to the vasodilation of arteries and veins throughout your entire body, including in your muscles. This improves blood flow to your muscles, boosting the rate at which oxygen and nutrients are delivered to your muscle cells.
The results? Healthier and stronger muscles!
Want to learn more ways to keep your muscles healthy and strong? Check out Hunter’s guide on How to Improve Muscle Health!
Sex Impacts Weight Management
Last but not least, sex can indirectly improve muscle health by supporting weight management.
While the exact reason for the association remains unclear, there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that those individuals (both male and female) who have sex frequently are slimmer than those who have it infrequently.
This is further supported by studies demonstrating that during years where sexual activity declines weight gain tends to increase.
On its own, this data might simply suggest that people who carry less weight have more sex (rather than people who have more sex weigh less), but this isn’t the only data we have!
And being in good general health is one of the best ways to ensure regular physical activity, which aids in weight loss, promotes muscle gain and reduces the stress on your muscular system. All great news for your muscle health!
But Won’t Having Sex Ruin My Athletic Performance?
Now, with all this talk of sex and muscle health might be sending up red flags for some of the athletes among you.
After all, there is that long-standing rumor (as in since ancient times!) that sex the night before either a competition or a training session can negatively impact strength and power, inhibiting your ability to perform — eh-hem, athletically — in a big way.
Ancient people thought abstaining from sex was one of the best methods to ensure athletic performance, as sexual frustration was said to increase aggression. And the idea has persisted well into the modern age, with people worrying that ejaculation could draw testosterone from the body, thus reducing aggression and muscle strength.
But, fortunately, this appears to be completely false.
Research has consistently shown that having sex the night before does not have any effects on strength and power performance.
As in, no effects whatsoever.
In fact, the only time that sex appears to be able to have a negative impact on athletic performance is if you have it in the two hours immediately before a competition.
And that’s probably just because you are still just plain physically fatigued from the sex itself!
Take Home Message
The act of having sex brings more than just good feelings. It has been shown to boost mood, improve emotional well-being and have a positive impact on mental and physical health, including on the health of your muscles.
By improving your testosterone levels, boosting blood flow to your muscles and helping you manage your weight, sex can help keep your muscles strong and healthy for your entire life.
So, if you were looking for another good reason to get down on Valentine’s Day, I’d say you found one!