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Studies Show Direct Correlation between Exercise and Improved Sex Lives

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Feb. 5, 2003 – Want to put the pizzazz back in your relationship? This year for Valentine’s Day, forget the chocolates and head to the gym with your beloved. The American Council on Exercise (ACE) points out that numerous studies show a direct correlation between exercise and an improved sex life, and confirm that people who begin a fitness program with their spouses are more likely to stick to it than those who join by themselves.

“Regular exercise appears to enhance sexuality through a variety of mechanisms that affect both the mind and body,” said Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist and VP of Educational Services. “Physical improvements in muscle strength and tone, endurance, body composition, and cardiovascular function (specifically, enhanced peripheral blood flow) can all enhance sexual functioning.”

  • The Harvard School of Public Health revealed that men who exercised for 20 to 30 minutes a day were about half as likely to have erection problems as those who did not. As a man’s waist size increased, so did his odds of experiencing some form of sexual dysfunction.

  • At the University of California, San Diego, a study of 78 sedentary but healthy middle-aged men proved that those who started working out regularly (three to four times a week, for 60 minutes per session) reported more frequent sexual activity and orgasms, more reliable function during sex, and a higher percentage of satisfying orgasms.

  • A study conducted at the University of North Carolina’s Applied Physiology Lab found that athletes who exercised at 70 percent of their VO2 max experienced a 40 percent increase in free-testosterone, a 38 percent increase in cortisol, and an increase in epinephrine. These higher hormonal levels all contribute to a heightened sexual arousal.

  • According to a 10-year Massachusetts Male Aging Study, the largest random-sample investigation ever done on erectile dysfunction, found a direct correlation between physical inactivity and a lack of potency. Sedentary men had the highest risk for impotence, while men who worked out had the lowest.

  • A study at the University of Texas at Austin researched 35 young women (ages 18 – 34) who on two separate occasions, watched first a short travel film, then an X-rated film. The first time the subjects cycled vigorously for 20 minutes, the second time they did not. After measuring the subject’s sexual response, using a device that measures blood flow in genital tissue, researchers found that after exercising, the women’s vaginal responses were 169 percent greater.

  • A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness confirms that married couples who voluntarily began a supervised fitness program were less likely to drop out than married men and women who joined without their spouses. In fact, nearly half of the married “singles” who joined themselves dropped out of the program.

“Psychological benefits, such as stress reduction, improved self-esteem, elevated mood, and increased confidence can also contribute to a more enriched sex life,” said Bryant. “These studies help document that regular, moderate exercise may help prevent, reduce, or possibly reverse major sexual problems, from erectile dysfunction to low libido, in both sexes.”

About ACE
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting active, healthy lifestyles and their positive effects on the mind, body and spirit. ACE pledges to enable all segments of society to enjoy the benefits of physical activity and to protect the public against unqualified fitness professionals and unsafe or ineffective fitness products, programs and trends. ACE accomplishes this mission by setting certification and continuing education standards for fitness instructors and through ongoing public education regarding scientifically sound health and fitness practices. For more information on ACE and its programs, call (800) 825-3636 or log onto the ACE Web site at

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About ACE

Founded in 1985, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) is a nonprofit organization committed to America's health and wellbeing. Over the past 30 years, we have become an established resource for health and fitness professionals, and the public, providing comprehensive, unbiased research and validating ourselves as the country's trusted authority on health and fitness.

Today, ACE is the largest nonprofit health and fitness certification, education and training organization in the world with more than 58,000 certified professionals who hold more than 64,000 ACE Certifications. With a long heritage in certification, education, training and public outreach, we are among the most respected organizations in the industry and a resource the public has come to trust for health and fitness education.