Long and intense exercise can lower a man's sex drive, says a new study.

By Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Updated: February 27, 2017

There are plenty of things that can help and hurt someone's sex drive: stress, diet, self-esteem. And according to a new study, you might want to add his cardio workouts to the list.

Men who work out longer and harder, particularly those who do high-volume cardio like training for a marathon, have lower-than-average sex drives, according to a new study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Researchers asked men to answer a questionnaire about their exercise habits and sex lives. Over 1,000 men responded, most of whom were experienced athletes with long training histories. The scientists took their medical histories and asked them about their fitness habits, categorizing the men into groups based on their exercise length (short, medium, or long) and their exercise intensity (low, medium, high). Each man was then asked to answer questions about their interest in and participation in sex.

The data was clear: Men who exercised at lower intensities and for shorter amounts of time were more likely to report higher or average libidos. The longer and harder their exercise, the less interest in sex.

This study only shows a link between exercise type and libido, not a cause. But one possible explanation is that the added stress on the body from the exercise lowers testosterone, which in turn lowers sex drive. A previous study done by the University of Texas at Austin found that high levels of cortisol from increased physical or mental stress block testosterone's effects. It's a fine line, however, as being a couch potato can also tank his (and your) sex drive. And exercise, especially weight lifting, has been shown to increase testosterone. The key to reaping the positive effects of exercise on testosterone is moderation, according to the Medicine & Science study.

But not everyone wants to do their 45 minutes at the gym three times a week. Some people thrive on the excitement and adventure of a big physical challenge. So what's a girl in love with a triathlete or marathoner to do? You shouldn't need to give up on a healthy sex life until he crosses the finish line. Start with these four ways to boost his low sex drive and these six sexy ways to raise both of your sex drives. Lastly, make sure you're both spending enough time in the sack-sleeping. Getting a solid eight hours a night may boost libido.



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