Exercise your way to better sex

Let’s get physical! Learn how these simple exercises can improve your sex life

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fit for sex

Are you in good shape for sex?

Whether you work out to lose weight, build endurance or tone your muscles, it's likely that you have a goal in mind when you exercise. But have you considered how your fitness routine can help boost your sex life? As it turns out, exercise can increase your sexual desire, help you achieve stronger orgasms and improve your endurance in the bedroom (and beyond). We asked three sexuality experts to weigh in on how exercise can turn you on and get you off.

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turnyouon

Working out turns you on

Exercise can go a long way toward improving your libido, says Lori Brotto, director of the UBC Sexual Health Lab in Vancouver.  "Body image, mood and physical health in general are all very important in women's sexual desire. In fact they're much more important than the influence of hormones." This is because a woman's desire is an emotional response more than a body response-when you feel good emotionally, you're more likely to be in a sexy mood.

 

"When I work out, I feel confident, strong and much more interested in connecting with someone. So I find that my libido definitely goes up when I exercise," says Carlyle Jansen, sexuality educator and founder of the Good For Her sex shop in Toronto.

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aerobics

Aerobics can boost your libido

While general fitness is important for improving your sexual desire, research shows that a short burst of aerobic activity has an immediate effect on sexual arousal. In a 2007 study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas, women who ran on a treadmill for 20 minutes showed increased signs of sexual arousal when shown an erotic film than women who did not exercise at all. "We don't know if people who run every day have a better sexual response," says Brotto. "The leading theory in [this research] is that acute exercise boosts the sympathetic nervous system and that is part of the sexual response."

 

If you're planning a big night in, try going for a light 20-minute jog to help rev up your libido.

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orgasm

Training for the big "O"

Exercises that focus on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can help you achieve stronger orgasms. "The pelvic floor affects all aspects of the sexual anatomy," says Brotto. These muscles hang from your pelvic bone and function like a hammock, to support your uterus, bladder and bowel. Practicing light contractions helps tone and condition these muscles, which can result in greater sexual satisfaction. "This is partly because [contractions] stimulate the clitoris in a way that you can't access from the outside and partly because those are the muscles that contract during orgasm," says Jansen.

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pelvic muscles

How to find your pelvic-floor muscles

Pelvic floor exercises can be tricky to perform correctly. "Sometimes when women are trying to contract the pubococcygeus muscle in the pelvic floor, they might inadvertently be tensing a muscle in their back or abdomen," warns Brotto.

 

To locate the often-elusive pelvic floor muscles, she recommends this trick:

Imagine you need to urinate and pull up your muscles as if you can't make it to the bathroom on time. Hold that tension for 10 seconds without wobbling or letting go. If you can't hold on to the contraction for 10 seconds or you can feel your muscles shaking, that's a sign that your pelvic floor needs toning.

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strengthen pelvic

Four moves to strengthen your pelvic floor

Once you've located your pelvic-floor muscles, there are several techniques you can use to strengthen them, says Jansen. She recommends the following exercises, which you can do at any time throughout the day:

a. Contract your pelvic-floor muscles for five seconds then release for five seconds. Repeat.

b. Squeeze your muscles for five seconds, relax for five seconds then push down as if you were trying to push something out of your vagina and repeat.

c. Squeeze and release your pelvic muscles in rapid succession. "A good place to do this is in the car, in time to the turning signal," Jansen says.

d. Think of your vagina as an elevator shaft. First squeeze what seems like the ground floor of your vagina, then relax. Next, squeeze the second floor of the vagina, followed by the top floor. This more advanced technique helps you isolate the deeper vaginal muscles from the shallower ones.

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barbell

Vaginal exercisers

"Tools are partly used to locate the [pelvic-floor] muscles and partly for pleasure," says Jansen. "Your clitoris is sandwiched between those muscles, which is why some people have an orgasm from squeezing them."

Here are two of the most popular vaginal exercisers on the market:

Betty's Vaginal Barbell (pictured)
Recommended by Jansen, this barbell-like exerciser is inserted into the vagina and allows the user to squeeze her pelvic-floor muscles around a large or small ball attached to either end.

Ben wah balls
Each of these two hollow metal balls, attached together by a string, contains a small weight inside that rolls around to create a rolling sensation. Brotto recommends this tool for women who are disconnected from their bodies. "When [a woman] puts the weights inside her vagina and stands up, it focuses her attention there and she needs to force a contraction in order for the balls not to fall out," she says. 

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newbarbell

Vaginal exercisers

"Tools are partly used to locate the [pelvic-floor] muscles and partly for pleasure," says Jansen. "Your clitoris is sandwiched between those muscles, which is why some people have an orgasm from squeezing them."

Here are two of the most popular vaginal exercisers on the market:

Betty's Vaginal Barbell (pictured)
Recommended by Jansen, this barbell-like exerciser is inserted into the vagina and allows the user to squeeze her pelvic-floor muscles around a large or small ball attached to either end.

Ben wah balls
Each of these two hollow metal balls, attached together by a string, contains a small weight inside that rolls around to create a rolling sensation. Brotto recommends this tool for women who are disconnected from their bodies. "When [a woman] puts the weights inside her vagina and stands up, it focuses her attention there and she needs to force a contraction in order for the balls not to fall out," she says. 

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breathing

Increase your desire by breathing deeply

Breathing exercises are another way to tone the muscles that enhance your sexual experience. "Deep breathing strengthens the pelvic area and having strength in the core muscles deepens sexual pleasure," says Toronto-based sexual educator Gillian Kranias, who teaches breathing techniques as part of a workshop she leads on sex and yoga.

Deep breathing also promotes relaxation, which is key to achieving orgasm. Kranias suggests practicing this breathing technique:

a. Lie on your back and place your palm on your lower belly, just below the belly button.

b. Inhale and expand your lower belly so that your hand rises.

c. Exhale the breath for as long you can. "The long exhalation is what works the pelvic floor muscles," says Kranias.

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cobra

Three yoga postures to get you in the mood

Yoga practices that focus on breathing and stretching can have erotic possibilities, says Kranias. She recommends trying these postures by yourself or with a partner to help increase your libido*:

Cat and dog pose: Kneel on your hands and knees, making your back flat. As you inhale, tuck in your tailbone, round your back, lower your head and stretch your spine toward the ceiling. Exhale and reverse the arch of your back while raising your chest.

Cobra pose: Start by lying flat on your stomach with legs outstretched. Press into the floor with your stomach and use your back muscles to carefully lift your head, shoulders and chest, using your arms for support.

Fish pose: Lie flat on your back with your hands placed palm down under your thighs. Inhale and lift your upper body up onto your elbows, then arch your back so that the top of your head is touching the floor. To protect your neck, ensure that the bulk of your weight is on your arms, not your head.

*Check with your physician before performing these or any other exercises.

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mouth

Two workouts for your mouth

Now that your libido is raring to go, Jansen suggests trying these mouth exercises to help make oral sex more pleasurable for you and your partner.

a. To strengthen your tongue muscle, make your tongue pointy and press the tip to your palate with as much pressure as you can.

b. String a piece of thread through a button. Place the button between your lips in front of your teeth and pull on the string. To strengthen your lips, try to keep the button in place against your teeth.

For more exercises, Jansen recommends checking out the book Blow Him Away (Broadway Books, 2004) written by speech pathologist Marcy Michaels.

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