My husband keeps encouraging me to work out because I am too tired at night to have sex. He runs most days after work and says if I exercised more, I would have energy for "us" at the end of a day. I do feel tired at night after chasing our two children, 3- and 5-year-olds, around the house all day, feeding them, playing with them and keeping up with the house. I feel I get plenty of exercise and don't need to go to the gym because my days are so physically demanding. Do you think exercising would help my energy level? - No Name Please
I will be the first to validate your claim that chasing children - aka taking care of their every need - does indeed qualify as exercise. I chased three around myself and know firsthand that children can drain the last drop of energy inside us. But your husband is on to something when he encourages you to work out. Lack of energy is the biggest factor contributing to decreased sexual desire.
Unfortunately, raising children is not the kind of activity that will improve your general health or your sex life. Understandably, after a day of lifting, reaching, prodding, pulling and running after your children, you are physically and emotionally spent. Consequently, this feeling rearranges most people's priorities at the end of the day and moves sleep rather than sex to the top of the list.
We recognize that fatigue is not conducive to a lively sex life, so by strengthening your cardiovascular system and increasing circulation you increase the chances that you will have reserve energy when it is time to fall into bed. After all, fitness is defined by being able to carry out all the tasks of the day with enough energy left over to enjoy leisure activities. Chances are you are still questioning why your busy days don't meet the criteria for boosting stamina, a key element for sexual desire and function. The answer is tied into an intentional mindset.
Intentional exercise is exercise that you "plan" to do. You prepare to do it. You think about what to eat before you work out. You consider hydration, proper attire and mentally focus on the activity you are about to put effort into. You set aside a predetermined amount of time, and you incorporate a warmup at the beginning and a stretch at the end - all of which leave you feeling invigorated and none of which describes taking care of children.
The activity you perform while raising children is quite unintentional and, in fact, is oftentimes chaotic. You may be running upstairs carrying a baby one minute and trying potty-train a toddler the next. Your focus is on children, household needs, pets, etc. - never on yourself. The intensity of the day varies abruptly. Rarely will this type of activity promote a robust sexual appetite.
Granted, we know there are many things that detrimentally affect our sex life - obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption, money and emotional issues to name a few. But there have been countless studies on what enhances a sex life. Many studies on sexual function point out that nothing positively influenced sexual satisfaction or desire more than good general health.
This can be achieved with moderate intentional exercise. Regular exercise equivalent to walking 2 to 3 miles a day was found to be most advantageous when it comes to elevating energy, stamina, passion and pleasure - all wonderful ingredients in a fulfilling sex life.
One caveat is mentioned in the various studies. Subscribing to the belief that if a little is good, a lot is better is not a great idea here if you are looking for improved sexual energy or performance. Exercising too much can actually have negative effects on your love life. It can overstimulate hormones, which can adversely affect sex drive and function.
But considering we live in a time where the demand for instant gratification is great, I find it refreshing you are being encouraged to exercise, which is something healthful and will spill over and enrich many other areas of your life.
Finding time for a moderate amount of intentional activity is the challenge, of course. I sense, however, your husband will be happy to share the duties of parenthood so you can fit in your workouts, which will ensure you have enough energy to pursue your leisure activities.
Cindy Boggs, fitness presenter, author and Activate America director, has been an ACE-certified coordinator/instructor since 1989. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to YMCA of Kanawha Valley, 100 YMCA Drive, Charleston, WV 25311, or e-mail cindys...@aol.com. Look for Cindy's fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World" on her Web site www.cindysays.com or contact the YMCA at 340-3527.