Misty Harris , CanWest News ServicePublished: Tuesday, August 2, 2005
People can not only run their way to a better sex life , but
also have sex to become a
better runner, according to a survey of studies on the issue by Runner's World magazine.
Male runners seem to have the sexual prowess of men two to five years younger, it found. Vigorous exercise, combined with lifestyle factors such as diet and not smoking, can improve a man's sexual status by up to 10 years.
"The science is very complex," says Dr. Ted Fenske, an Edmonton cardiologist who ran the Boston Marathon this year. "But running will improve vascular health and vascular health is necessary for a male to have proper sexual function."
mike Finch, editor of Runner's World's South African edition, says marathoners are "like sexual gods."
Countless university studies and field work all pointing to a similar -- albeit less bombastic -- conclusion. Because exercise increases feel-good hormones and helps improve overall physical function, experts contend that sex stands to be enhanced from regular running.
A 2003 study out of Harvard University found men over 50 who run at least three hours a week have a 30% lower risk of impotence than those who do little or no exercise.
"Runners are fitter, healthier and have a good self-image," says Mr. Finch. "That makes them more eager to have sex, makes them more desirable and gives them more endurance."
Dr. Fenske notes that C-reactive protein has recently been found to be related to cardiovascular disease; exercise is shown to reduce this type of protein.
He says aerobic exercise will also improve the function of the endothelium (vascular tissue lining), minimizing injuries to the blood vessels which are necessary to sexual health.
However, Dr. Fenske observes that running, not intercourse, is fundamentally what makes people run better.
"These ideas about having sex and then running your personal best are great," he says.
"But I don't think they're going to be the reality for people."
Dr. Fenske is referring to claims in Runner's World that women stand to gain an athletic advantage from snogging before jogging.
"What we discovered was that women do benefit from having sex the night before a race," says Mr. Finch, recalling the finding of Israeli physician Alexander Olshanietzky that "women compete better after orgasm."
Distance runner and three-time Olympian Lynn Jennings once remarked that "sex the night before solidifies my core feeling of happiness."
John Stanton, founder of Canada's Running Room chain, says this phenomenon is largely psychological. Just as running improves body image and thus self-confidence in the bedroom, having sex might energize a runner and enhance emotional fitness.
"When your sex life becomes healthier, your whole sense of well-being is better," he says.
"Likewise, our sexual performance can be an indication to how healthy we are."
But Mr. Stanton warns that one of the first things to suffer when an athlete over-exercises is libido.
"Runners can be a bit obsessive-compulsive," he says, laughing. "Too much of a good thing is not good."