Living a healthy lifestyle can provide you with many benefits, including better or even great sex!
Nearly half of American women—43 percent—suffer from some kind of sexual dysfunction, the Journal of the American Medical Association recently reported. But simply changing your everyday behaviors may help. "A decline in your sexual health may mean something's wrong with your overall health," says Hank C. K. Wuh, M.D., M.P.H., co-author of Sexual Fitness (Putnam, 2001). There's evidence that the lifestyle program Wuh created works:
In a 30-day study of 25 men and women (median age: 42):
- 82 percent said they experienced sexual desire more frequently
- 50 percent said their level of desire increased
- 40 percent reported an improved sexual relationship
Wuh's seven strategies in a nutshell:
- eat a healthy diet
- take certain herbs
- avoid medications that can cause sexual dysfunction
- stimulate your senses
- exercise regularly
- get enough sleep
- most importantly, learn healthy ways to manage stress
Try this position for better sex
Over 20 percent of Shape readers say their bedroom romps feel more stale than steamy. But according to a review published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, practicing yoga regularly can help ignite a spark.
"Some women have trouble focusing during lovemaking, which makes it hard to get aroused even when they're physically ready to go," says Lori Brotto, Ph.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of British Columbia. "Yoga encourages you to concentrate on how your body responds to each pose—improving this skill makes it easier to zero in on sensations during sex."
Any type of yoga can give you this boudoir benefit, so join a class and get back that loving feeling.
Work out, have more fun in bed with better sex
People who regularly work up a sweat outside the bedroom feel more sexually desirable, finds a study at the University of Arkansas. Other research from Duke University Medical Center shows that when overweight men and women lost just 10 percent of their body weight, they enjoyed sex more. Get moving and watch your between-the-sheets confidence soar.
Shape shares two more ways in which living a healthy lifestyle can lead to better sex.
Protect yourself for safer, better sex
Want to have better sex? Skip the candles and skimpy lingerie and pick up some condoms. A new study published in the journal Sexual Health found that women who used them along with a form of hormonal contraception, such as birth control pills, reported being more sexually satisfied.
Researchers say that may be because the women were able to stop worrying about sexually transmitted diseases and birth control mishaps, like missed pills or broken condoms, and focus on enjoying he moment. "It could also be that women who double up take better care of themselves, which had a positive effect on sexual health," says author Jenny Higgins, Ph.D. So if you're not in a committed relationship, stash a box of condoms in your nightstand—and get set for some spicier sessions between the sheets.
Eat to boost your libido for great sex
That super-lowfat diet you're on may be shrinking your sex drive along with your waistline. "Adding good, unsaturated fats to your meals can help get you back in the mood," says sexuality researcher Beverly Whipple, Ph.D., a professor emertia at Rutgers University.
Your body uses them to produce cholesterol, which is necessary for making hormones like testosterone and estrogen that regulate your libido. Experts recommend that you consume at least 20 percent of your calories from health fat.
If you usually take in about 1,600 calories a day, aim for about 36 grams a day total—the equivalent of an ounce of almonds (or about 23 nuts), a tablespoon of olive oil, and a tablespoon of peanut butter. And don't worry about putting the pounds back on: Research shows that people are more likely to shed weight and keep it off on a moderate-fat diet than on a very lowfat one.