Just three minutes of physical stress appears to increase males' responses to sexual stimuli, according to one study. When shown sexual images, males that had done a short bout of exerting strong hand grip just prior had a stronger bodily response compared to the control group, suggesting physical exertion could boost mechanisms controlling arousal.
The research focused on the sympathetic nervous system, which controls our “fight-or-flight" responses, and is activated by stress or arousal. It is therefore possible that physical exercise – even just a small stint – could have knock-on effects on sexual response and performance. However, previous research has never identified whether there is a physiological link between them, or whether their results were down to general excitation.
In this study, scientists from Germany asked a group of 40 males to go through a sympathetic training regime (a 3-minute handgrip test) or a similar control procedure. Then, the participants were shown various images, some of which were sexual.
During the picture phase, physiological measurements were taken from the participants, including heart rate, skin conductance, heart rate, and pupil dilation.
The results showed that males that did the exercise had stronger physiological responses to the sexual images, while their responses to the other images stayed the same. When testing their parasympathetic nervous system, they also performed similarly to before, suggesting a specific action against the sympathetic nervous system.
“.Our findings provide strong evidence for enhancement of sexual processing by acute stress exposure in men and suggest differential involvement of parasympathetic versus sympathetic mechanisms,” conclude the researchers.
The study did involve a small sample size and did not include females, but it does provide a strong starting point for future research.
So, if you’re looking to get the best results in the bedroom, it might be time to get a pump going.
The research was published in the journal Psychophysiology.