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Women Over 40 Who Exercise This Much Have More Orgasms, Says Study

Exercise is strongly linked with better sexual satisfaction—so long as you don't overdo it.
FACT CHECKED BY Alex Daniel

Recently, researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine and OMGYES, a sex instruction website for women, sought to uncover the things that women can do to make sex more enjoyable. Using data on more than 4,000 women globally between the ages of 18-93, the study yielded four techniques—all outlined in the academic journal PLOS One—and you can read about them here. However, according to a new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, there's yet another thing that women—especially women who are over 40 years old—can do to make sex far more enjoyable and increase their chances of orgasm: Exercise enough.

Now, it should hardly come as a surprise to learn that exercise and sex are strongly linked in terms of performance as well as satisfaction. As the actor Kate Hudson only just recently realized, sex is exercise. When you have sex, you give your heart and muscles a workout, you provide your skin with a rush of blood flow, you lower your stress levels, and you prime your body for a restful night of sleep. (For more on this, check out What Happens to Your Body When You Have Sex.) For men, exercise is essentially a "natural Viagra." For women, exercise is linked with greater feelings of arousal, desire, and satisfaction. It's virtuous cycle: Fitter people have more endurance in bed and enjoy it more, which helps them get fitter.

But, in the case of women, the question remains: How much exercise is necessary to enjoy sex more and achieve orgasm? The new study, conducted by researchers at Italy's University of Florence, focused on 322 women, most of whom were in their mid-40s. The participants were asked a series of questions regarding sex drive and their exercise regimens, and they also underwent ultrasound scans that measured blood flow in the clitoris. (The latter is directly associated with feelings of sexual pleasure and orgasm.)

By the end of the study, the researchers confirmed the obvious: Exercise is strongly linked with better sex—better sexual function and "clitoral vascularization," a better chance of orgasm, "lower sexual distress," and reduced odds of sexual disorders. Those who exercised roughly 4 hours per week, or roughly 35 to 50 minutes per day, were most likely to be sexually fulfilled and achieve orgasm. Meanwhile, those who exercised an hour or less each week had a higher chance of sexual dysfunction.

Perhaps most surprisingly, those who exercised 6 hours a week or more found that their sexual experience declined considerably. "Finally, extreme PA [or 6 hours-per-week of physical activity] was associated with significantly worse scores in several psychosexual parameters (i,e, sexual satisfaction and histrionic/hysterical symptoms), even compared to a sedentary lifestyle," notes the study. These super-exercisers reported less orgasms overall and a lack of interest in sex.

What does 6 hours-per-week look like? Well, it's a good bit of exercise—it comes to 360 minutes per week, or roughly 52 minutes of exercising every day, when averaged out. For reference, according to the latest guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults should aspire to perform "at least" 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week to enjoy the health benefits of working out. If you're going by this new study, you should aspire to hit 240 minutes of exercise every week to maximize your experience in bed. Regardless, if you're experiencing low sex drive, we'd urge you to consider consulting with your doctor before you consider cutting down on any exercise. And for more sex news, don't miss The Sex Position That Secretly Helps You Sleep Better, Says Study.

William Mayle
William Mayle is a UK-based writer who specializes in science, health, fitness, and other lifestyle topics. Read more
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