Q+A: Does intense or prolonged exercise decrease libido in men?

Does intense or prolonged exercise decrease libido in men?

by Matt Brzycki


Does intense or prolonged exercise decrease libido in men?

A study published in July 2017 surveyed 1,077 men (aged 18 or older) who responded to an online questionnaire asking about their libido (sexual desire) and training habits. Researchers divided the respondents into two groups-low libido and normal/high libido-according to their "libido scores" (calculated from their replies to questions on that topic).

The survey suggested men who exercised with higher intensity or duration had a greater risk of lower libido than those who exercised with low or mid-range intensity or duration. Interestingly, the vast majority of the men who performed some type of strength training had a normal or high libido.

Note the familiar scientific maxim that "correlation doesn't imply causation." Just because a study found a connection between prolonged or intense exercise and a lower libido, it doesn't mean that one caused the other. Lower libido could have been caused by decreased levels of testosterone or greater mental or physical fatigue, for example.

We all like to think exercise helps keep libido strong, and it may-as long as the exercise intensity or duration isn't excessive.

REFERENCE: Hackney, A.C., et al. 2017. Endurance exercise training and male sexual libido. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 49 (7), 1383-88.

Meet our experts

AFM-Author-Brzycki Matt Brzycki , is the Assistant Director of Campus Recreation, Fitness at Princeton University. He has more than 30 years of experience at the collegiate level and has authored, co-authored and edited 17 books.

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