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Reprinted from the Wednesday, February 7, 2007 Issue | CiN Weekly

The right exercises can improve your bedroom performance - really!

Valentine's Day without a bedroom romp is like ice cream without a spoon - still sweet, but what a letdown.

This year as you pick out chocolates and send flowers in the hopes of a big payoff in the sack, consider hitting the gym or giving your honey an exercise class instead. Because according to research, working out can really get you worked up.

"Fit people have better sex," says Brian Calkins, a personal trainer at HealthStyle Fitness in Pleasant Ridge. "Exercise makes you feel better and more confident about your appearance. If someone is self-conscious about their jiggly thighs and wobbly belly, then they're not going to be thrilled about taking their clothes off. But when they feel better and they're less self-conscious about taking their clothes off, they're more likely to want to engage in sex.



Calkins isn't a sex therapist, but his eight years as a personal trainer have taught  him a thing or two about blood flow. And when it comes to sex, it's all about blood flow.

Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise, says improvements in muscle strength, endurance and cardiovascular function - specifically enhanced peripheral blood flow - can all enhance sexual function.

"Sexual function is affected by general health, and the more you can do to improve your health with physical activity, the better your sex life can be," Bryant says.

Well, then. Let's get started.

The first thing you'll want to do to heat things up is cardio.

"Cardio is the foundation for not only fitness but also for increasing sex drive," Calkins says. "Research has shown that increasing blood flow helps the act of sex and helps you perform longer."

Oh, sweet news. And speaking of longer: Several studies, including a 2004 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reported that a reduced-calorie diet and regular exercise improved erectile function in obese men.

Another study in the American Urology Association's Journal of Urology found that men who have a 42-inch waist are twice as likely to develop erectile dysfunction as men with a 32-inch waist, regardless of age.

That's bad news for men and women.

Assuming everything is in working order, another way to improve your sex life is to reduce stress, which causes production of the hormone cortisol, known to cause excess weight around the belly. And what's a great way to reduce stress? You got it, exercise.

The best part of all of this is that you don't have to expend all of your energy at the gym to want to expend some of it in the bedroom.

"We're not talking excessive exercise," Calkins says. "We're talking three to four days a week for 20 to 30 minutes. That's enough to get some of the benefits."

It could be music to your mattress.