Men might think that by spending hours in the gym, honing their bodies until they resemble a buff Adonis, women (or other men) will throw themselves at them, powerless to resist the sexual attraction they feel.
But it turns out strenuous exercise could be doing your sex life more harm than good.
According to a new study, high intensity workouts may actually lower a man’s libido.
The research by the University of North Carolina assessed 1,100 men who considered themselves to be athletes. The men were asked questions about their sex lives but also their exercise habits.
The men who participated in the survey were divided up based on how much and how intensely they exercised, then also based on whether their libidos were high or low.
Incredibly, the patterns which emerged were extremely clear: the men who exercised moderately or lightly reported higher libidos than those whose workouts were longer and harder.
They found that men who exercise a lot reach a “tipping point”, where they’re too tired or no longer interested in sex.
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Of course, the authors cannot definitively state that intense exercise results in a lower libido, just that they are linked.
Lead researcher Dr Anthony Hackney, however, believes both physical fatigue and reduced testosterone levels likely play a role.
It’s one of the first studies to look into the link between exercise and sex drive in men, and the findings are so great that fertility experts are now considering changing the advice they give to men who are trying to conceive with their partners.
Previous research on women has concluded that intense exercise – such as the training done by professional marathon runners – can result in menstrual abnormalities. It is believed that a woman’s hormone balance can change after intense exercise, which results in lower fertility and diminished sex drive.
“Fertility specialists will often ask a woman about whether and how much she exercises,” said Dr Hackney. “Based on our data, we think they should also be asking the man.”