Getting more active can boost your sex life – top insights from our expert team

Keep up (or start) the exercise – it can do wonders for your physical relationship too

Let’s talk about sex. As we get older, the majority of us are still enjoying an active sex life. In fact, research by the University of Manchester reveals that more than half of men and a third of women over the age of 70 are still sexually active.

It’s not our increasing age that tends to put a damper on getting intimate. Instead, that same study reveals that it’s health issues or partner conflicts that are the real passion killers.

If things are getting a bit sluggish, then getting active can make a huge difference to your sexual spark. Our team of experts reveal what activities can bring a sizzle back into your relationship.

A man and a woman lying next to each other in bedCredit: Shutterstock / Roman Samborskyi
Sex really is good for you.

Why sex is so important as we age

Improves relationships and physical health

Should we be worried? Is sex really that important as we get older? Maybe an early night with a good book is better for our physical and mental health, rather than getting all hot and sweaty?

Researchers from University College London analysed data from more almost 6,000 people aged over 50 about their sex lives. And their conclusion seems to be to put that book down, because an active sex life really is important to our physical and mental health as we get older.

The results showed that:

  • Men and women who have sex report better health than those who don’t
  • Older people enjoy life more when they are sexually active
  • Men who are sexually active later in life continue to have better brain health than those who don’t
  • Sex releases endorphins – mood-boosting hormones which don’t just make you feel happy, they are also associated with activating the immune system
  • Men who have a decline in sexual desire or erectile dysfunction are more likely to go on to develop cancer, heart disease or other chronic illnesses
  • People who engage in a sex with their partner are likely to share a closer relationship which is linked to improved mental health

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s Charity Director, adds: “There are many stereotypes and misconceptions about later life, including that sex becomes irrelevant once you reach a certain age.

“This is far from the case and sex continues to be an important and very enjoyable part of life for many older people.”

How can getting active help your sex life?

Sex can give you a physical and mental boost

Step exercise with a group of older men and womenCredit: Shutterstock / Africa Studio
Cardiovascular exercise really gets the blood flowing again.

So now we’ve got the motivation, how can we help our bodies get back into gear again?

Getting active is one of the best things you can do. Research has shown that exercise can help women’s libido. It can also reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction in men.

There are also physical benefits from exercise that can really help sexual function. For example, cardio activity (the type that raises our heart rate and makes us breathe faster) improves our circulatory system. For men, this may help with erections and for women it can help with vaginal lubrication and sensation.

If the exercise helps you lose weight, that’s a double win. For example, the  found that men with either a large waist circumference (in other words, carrying fat around their middle) or who were overweight were 50 per cent more likely to have erectile dysfunction.

So where do we start and what activities should we choose?

1. Swimming

Swimming boosts your sex life

man swimming in a poolCredit: Shutterstock / Grand Picture
Swimming is a great way to boost your sex life.

Fitness writer and keen swimmer, Julie Penfold

Swimming offers numerous benefits for both our physical and mental health, but did you know it can also offer benefits for our sex lives too?

Joe Malone, a personal trainer at OriGym, a leading fitness training provider, tells us more.

“Swimming boosts your libido by reducing stress levels and releasing more endorphins, which your partner will thank you for. Physical exercise in the water can also improve your sexual experiences by strengthening your pelvic muscles.

“Moreover, swimming in cold water can increase oestrogen and testosterone levels, which in turn can improve your sexual wellbeing and confidence. If you don’t like the idea of swimming in cold water, remember, it will help you heat things up in the bedroom later.

“Endurance in the bedroom is important to enhance both your own and your partner’s sexual experiences. Swimming can help you in this department. By swimming 30 minutes two to three times a week, not only are you improving your physical stamina but you’re also losing weight.”

If you have any health issues, such as a heart condition, high blood pressure, or asthma, make sure you get medical advice before taking up swimming – this is particularly important for cold water swimming.

2. Running together

Couples who sweat together, stay together

A man and a woman running together.Credit: Shutterstock / Lightfield Studios
Running together can bring you closer.

Running instructor and fitness writer Rebecca Frew

Sex and running sound worlds away from each other. However, pounding the pavement with our other halves could benefit our sex lives.

A Europe-wide survey by MyProtein found 66 per cent of those questioned who run regularly say they have better orgasms.

Relationship psychotherapist Charisse Cooke says that running as a couple can also bring the spark back.

“Couples who run together bring back what was happening physiologically at the beginning of their relationship.

“It increases our heart rate, boosts libidos, spikes our feelgood sensations, and helps us notice our partner’s physical body. It creates the perfect, potent combination of physical stimulation and emotional connectivity.”

And it’s backed up scientifically.

Dr Laura Mason, Associate Professor of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Swansea University, says: “Testosterone and oestrogen both tend to drop with age, but exercise, including running, has been shown to boost these, for increased sex drive.”

3. Yoga

Why not try the frog pose?

Men and women lying on the floor during a yoga as yoga is a good exercise to help your sex lifeCredit: Shutterstock / Lightfield Studios
Yoga can help your stress levels and improve flexibility.

Phillipa Cherryson, channel editor

Research has proved that yoga is great for your sex life. In our beginner’s guide to yoga, we highlight the research that yoga improves the sex life of women over 45, improving desire, arousal and even orgasms. While for men, yoga improves sexuality and can help ease sexual dysfunction problems.

Yoga instructor Jade Gooding, from InstructorLive, says: “Feeling stressed and fatigued doesn’t really make us ‘feel in the mood’. A regular yoga practice is proven to reduce feelings of stress and improve energy levels, which therefore can help bring more energy into the bedroom.

“Poor self-image can reduce your libido, but practising yoga can help us to feel more comfortable in our own body, which allows us to be more comfortable in becoming intimate with someone else.”

There’s certainly a lot of interest – recently a Tiktok video by @yogamama claiming that the frog pose can improve your sex life notched up millions of views.

4. Pelvic floor exercises

Improves many continence and sexual issues

Rebecca Fuller, fitness writer and personal trainer

Exercise releases endorphins and boost serotonin, aka the happy hormone. What could be better to put you in the mood?

Pelvic floor exercises can help both men and women improve many continence and sexual issues, and it’s particularly important for pre- and post-menopausal women. Pelvic floor dysfunction often occurs during perimenopause due to a drop in oestrogen levels.

This can lead to many issues including dryness, recurring infections, incontinence, or prolapse. None of these symptoms are helpful when it comes to maintaining a healthy sex life. Regular pelvic floor exercises can help with this, improving blood flow to the area, tightening and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, and helping bladder control.

It’s well worth making time to identify your pelvic floor muscles and then set about exercising them regularly. Not only can it improve the issues mentioned above, but it may also lead to better orgasms as a result. The NHS has great guidelines on how to get started with pelvic floor exercises.

5. Get walking

Looking for extra sizzle in bed? Pull those boots on

Phillipa Cherryson, channel editor

Walking is an activity that almost all of us can do to help our sex lives. Walking doesn’t just have physical benefits, but mental health benefits too.  Even if you haven’t exercised for years, walking is a great way to get active again and it’s proven to help our sex lives.

University of Texas study found that women who walked for 20 minutes had higher levels of sexual arousal afterwards compared to those who did not

Walking has sexual benefits for men, too. A Harvard study discovered that 30 minutes of walking a day was linked to a 41 percent drop in the risk of erectile dysfunction.

Walking can even help improve your sex life if you suffer from conditions such as arthritis.

Mountain leader Nicola Byrne says: “Walking is great at getting you moving again, it’s a gentle exercise that almost anyone can benefit from. But it’s not just physical health, but mental health. Getting outside in the fresh air makes all of us feel so much better.

“I regularly get couples signing up for walks, and just being together in nature can reignite the spark and increase the bond between them.”

If walking in mountains isn’t accessible to you, why not take a walk together in your local park or beauty spot, or along the coast if you live near the sea?

Mature couple out hiking in nature -Credit: Shutterstock/Perfect Wave
Just spending time together outdoors can bring you closer and re-ignite the spark.

But  remember, as always with exercise, don’t overdo it. Research has shown that if you do too much it can be as bad as not doing anything at all – for example long periods of intense endurance exercise can reduce male libido, whilst in women,“excessive” exercise has been linked to lower sexual function. So just take it steady, especially to begin with.

In the end, however you choose to get active, – whether it’s swimming, running, fitness classes, yoga or walking – it will make a difference to your life. You’ll feel better both physically and mentally; your energy levels and stamina will improve, and when you feel good about yourself your sex life will benefit.

Phillipa Cherryson

Written by Phillipa Cherryson she/her

Updated:

Phillipa Cherryson is a senior digital editor for Saga Exceptional. Phillipa has been a journalist for 30 years, writing for local and national newspapers, UK magazines and reporting onscreen for ITV. In her spare time she loves the outdoors and is a trainee mountain leader and Ordnance Survey Champion.

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