Sex. Ok there I said it. So what about sex and runners? Bottom line, if you run regularly and long enough, you will enjoy numerous sexual benefits.
For both men and women, self confidence and a better self image are the psychological benefits of being a runner. This enhanced sense of well being is said to lead to a more fulfilling sex life.
Physiologically speaking, men appear to have the most to gain from running. Some research indicates that vigorous exercise can help men maintain the same sexual function as men two to five years younger. Add in lifestyle factors such as a healthy diet and not smoking, and men can improve their sexual status by up to 10 years.
Specifically, men can reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction by up to 30 percent if they run at least three hours per week or more (Health Professionals Follow-up Study). The thought is that vascular (blood vessel) health is improved with exercise, and proper sexual function relies on this.
On the flip side, a higher body mass index (being overweight) and the number of hours spent watching television was positively correlated with an increased rate of erectile dysfunction. These correlations were stronger especially for men 60 years and older.
Is there a downside to running and sex? The obvious one is over-training. When you are tired and sore (and usually cranky) sex is probably not going to be at the top of your to-do list.
For men, there was one study that followed 24 marathon runners as they prepared for a race. The only change that this study found was a decrease in the volume of semen and a slight increase in the hormone prolactin. No other changes were seen, and there appeared to be no loss of libido or sexual function.
So there it is. Happy running!