Beyond the Gym; What Diet and Exercise Have to Do with Sex?

Beyond the Gym; What Diet and Exercise Have to Do with Sex?

Sexual wellness is affected by everything in your life. How much stress your work is causing you, how much sleep you managed to get, what you had for breakfast, how many cocktails you had over the weekend, how much have you been moving your body during the past month, where you’re at in your menstrual cycle, the quality of your lube and even whether you remembered to charge your favourite toy (we all know how quickly that one can kill the mood).

The list of what can bring your sexual drive and the potential to achieve an orgasm down or up is endless. That is why here at Self Studies we don’t believe in any number of quick tips and tricks to get your libido up and running. We believe in a holistic approach and taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and sexually to achieve great sexual wellness and a fulfilled sex life, whether alone or with a partner.

A holistic approach means dealing with the whole of something and not just a single part of it. Your sexual wellness is more than just the sum of its parts. It is more than an orgasm or penetration, it is more than getting naked or queueing up all the right erogenous zones. To achieve as much pleasure and comfort in your sexuality as you can, focusing on your entire wellbeing is necessary. Naturally, this includes what you eat and how you move your body.

To find out what diet and exercise truly have to do with sex and sexual satisfaction, Self Studies connected with three inspiring women, Sanna, Andrea, and Anna, with knowledge and experience in nutrition, wellness, and yoga.

On the topic of physical movement, we consulted Andrea Solomun, a science-based health and movement coach, certified nutritionist, choreographer, and a former professional ballerina who provides holistic in-depth knowledge for improving your life quality sustainably and forever. Andrea is the creator of &ballet and &body programs that redefine the perception of body and movements necessary for health and longevity.

How can exercise influence one’s sexual wellness?

Without movement, we are unable to be healthy, not only metabolically but also mentally and emotionally. That is because movement influences both neurological processes and processes involved in hormone production. If we don't move daily, we stop producing what our bodies need and get low on energy, sick, unmotivated, and we lose our drive - including sexual drive.

It is also a conversation on what happens to our metabolism without movement and how metabolism then impairs sex hormone production, which of course makes problems with the function they provide itself. It is also a conversation about the mental aspect and being pleased within your body, how it looks and feels, which also largely influences sexual drive. If you don't feel good in your body, you probably won't feel confident or good enough to be sexually active in the first place. It is a blend of all mentioned, body and mind, that together provide good sexual health. Lack of movement and exercise will reduce chances to have a healthy sexual life, drive, have good sex, as well as reduce chances of pregnancy.

I see that when my clients work out regularly, they enjoy their bodies more, have more energy, and they can connect better both with the partner and with themselves, which comes as something so important, especially for women.

What physical movement and nutrition would you recommend to help people improve their sex life and feel more connected to their sexuality and to their partner?

With nutrition, I always say to eat more whole foods, protein dense food, and reduce the intake of highly processed food packed with added sugars.

For the exercise, I would say to do strength training two to three times per week, to incorporate some cardio, to walk as much as possible... but honestly, I will say: just freaking move!

Movement is life and the moment you realise it and start practising it, I guarantee you 101% the quality of, not only your sex life, but life itself, will improve.

We delved deeper into the topic of nutrition with Sanna Sumner, an expert hormone nutritionist who specialises in female health. Sanna has made it her mission to empower women to overcome their health issues and achieve vibrant well-being by assisting women in optimising their health through a holistic and nutrition-focused approach.

What kind of nutrition should one follow if they want to improve their sexual wellness?

Several nutritional factors can influence libido, and incorporating the right foods into your diet can help boost your sex drive and enhance your sexual performance. These are some ways that nutrition can improve libido:

Increase blood flow: Certain foods can help improve blood flow, which is essential for sexual arousal and function. Foods rich in nitric oxide, such as leafy green vegetables, beets, and garlic, can help dilate blood vessels and improve circulation.

Balance hormones: Hormones play a key role in sexual function, and certain nutrients can help regulate hormone levels. Foods rich in zinc, such as oysters, pumpkin seeds, and poultry, can help support healthy testosterone levels, which is important for libido both in men and women.

Enhance sexual function: Certain nutrients can help support sexual function and performance. Foods rich in antioxidants, such as berries, dark chocolate, and green tea, can help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation, which can improve sexual function and enhance arousal.

Boost energy levels: A well-balanced diet rich in nutrients can help improve energy levels, which can have a positive impact on libido. Foods high in complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can provide sustained energy and help combat fatigue, which can improve sexual stamina.

Support mood and stress levels: Stress and mood can have a significant impact on libido, and certain nutrients can help support a healthy mood and reduce stress levels. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, nuts, and seeds, can help support brain health and mood regulation, which can have a positive impact on libido.

In addition to incorporating these libido-boosting foods into your diet, it's also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle overall. Adequate sleep, regular exercise, and stress management can all help improve libido and sexual function.

Anna, an Amsterdam-based yoga instructor, helped us bring yoga and meditation into the sexual and self wellness mix. With over 10 years of experience in different styles of yoga, Anna currently teaches at Movements Yoga and Soho House and her favourite style to teach is vinyasa, a dynamic and powerful flow practice.

How can yoga influence your sexuality and sexual connection, whether with yourself or with a partner?

In yoga, you connect with yourself: your body and your breath moving through powerful postures. As we open up the body during the practice, some emotions can come out and it’s important to learn how to release different emotions and allow yourself to let go. This can teach how to let go of insecurities either with yourself or with a partner.

Can meditation help as well?

There are so many distractions around us so headspace and being present is very important. Daily meditation (even a short one) can help you to be more centred. When you are present - you can feel your body, your pleasure, and fully enjoy it. Meditation, as well as physical yoga practice, is a reminder to breathe. Deep breathing is a very powerful tool, it can help increase the oxygen level in the body, promote relaxation, and improve concentration which can lead to deeper and longer orgasms, enhancing pleasure.

Which aspects of yoga could be included in one’s sexual practice to better one’s sex life and overall sexual wellness?

Yoga practice is great for flexibility: with open hips, you have more space to explore when it comes to solo play or being together with your partner. With hip opening postures, you can start with lizard lunge, happy baby, or yogi squat. That will increase blood flow in the pelvic floor and will create more space for movement. For pelvic floor strength, I recommend bridge pose, goddess squat, and any abdominal crunches. A strong pelvic floor leads to sexual pleasure getting more intense.

You can also play around with poses! You can have a lot of fun with your partner by adding some yoga asanas in your sexual practice. Down dog, happy baby, or puppy pose can be some good ones to try. 

I think self love is the key to finding sexual connection, and I believe you can love yourself more when practising yoga. It is very empowering to accept yourself as you are and feel good in your skin. Yoga teaches us that - physical and mental acceptance and self love. 

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