If you’ve ever felt yourself get “in the mood” while exercising, it’s nothing to be ashamed of—because it’s likely due to biology more than it is your ego about how good you look while doing arm curls in front of a mirror.
“Workout, especially lower-body ones, cause the body to secrete hormones like testosterone,” personal trainer Nick Liguori told Well+Good recently. “This increases the blood flow to your reproductive organs, which ignites your libido.”
However, a rush of testosterone is more of a factor of increased arousal during exercise in men than it is in women. Though that doesn’t mean women aren’t also getting turned on when they break a sweat, it’s just more likely caused by something else. A 2008 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, found a “significant increase in physiological sexual arousal with exercise” in female participants and that there was “a significant increase in α-amylase [a digestive enzyme] across the study” in the women that exercised versus those that didn’t. Testosterone, however, remained the same level in both groups.
In addition, aerobic activity floods your brain with a variety of “feel-good neurotransmitters,” or endorphins, the Mayo Clinic says. Further still, exercise forces your body to work through the physical effects of stress—one of them being a decreased libido—which in turn reduces stress and can “lead to positive effects in your body—including your cardiovascular, digestive and immune systems—by helping protect your body from harmful effects of stress.”
So if improving your mental health, losing weight, and helping protect against any number of serious diseases and medical conditions aren’t enough to motivate you to start focusing on your fitness, add increasing your libido to the list of amazing benefits regular exercise has to offer. And to help you get started, here are The 50 Best 5-Minute Exercises Anyone Can Do.140