If your love life is languishing, you may be able to pump up your libido. Working out before sex amped up desire among women taking antidepressants, finds research from Indiana University and the University of Texas. And researchers say any woman will likely experience similarly stimulating benefits.
Antidepressants are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States. And nearly 96% of women taking them report sexual side effects—particularly a loss of desire, research has shown. The study team recruited 52 women and asked them to engage in both sex and 30 minutes of physical activity three times a week for three weeks. When the women worked out just before hopping in the sack with their partner, they reported significantly higher levels of sexual desire.
Unlike men—who can feel aroused without any external “triggers”—most women become turned on only in the presence of some kind of sexual cue, like foreplay or erotic images, explains study coauthor Tierney Lorenz, PhD, of IU’s Kinsey Institute. The effects of exercise—a rapid heart beat and a generally heightened sense of physical arousal—seem to prime women’s bodies for those sexual cues, Dr. Lorenz says.
But timing is everything. The arousing qualities of cardio last only 5 to 10 minutes, the study data shows. (Hopefully your partner doesn’t mind a little sweat.) But if you mix in some type of strength component—weights, resistance bands, body-weight exercises like push-ups—your heightened state of arousal will last 30 to 45 minutes after you quit your workout, Dr. Lorenz explains. Use this rule of thumb: If when you sit down you can feel your heart beating and your breathing is a little faster than usual, you’re pilot light is lit and you’re ready to cook, Dr. Lorenz says.