Sex & Athletic Performance

Big race, event, or game coming up? You should probably have sex the night before.

You likely don’t really need another reason to have more sex, but there are substantial myths around sex and athletic performance that claim that sex actually dampens athletic performance, when it may actually have benefits.

Olympic triathlete Samantha McGlone actually studied the topic of sex and performance for her PhD, and along with. Dr. Ian Shrier, a past president of the Canadian Academy of Sports Medicine, they published an article titled, Does Sex the Night Before Competition Decrease Performance? Their answer isn’t all that surprising; not physically.

Myth: Sex will fatigue athletes and affect their performance.

Truth: On average, sex burns the same amount of calories as walking up two sets of stairs (25-50 calories). So there is practically no likelihood of sex impacting performance.

At this last World Cup in Brazil, the Brazilian coach made it clear to his team that there was to be no sex involved while they were competing to ensure that the team stay focused on winning the World Cup. Needless to say Brazil didn’t perform well at home after losing to Germany in the semi-finals 1-7. Coincidence? Maybe not.

According to Shrier and McClone, sex can actually relax you, mentally and physically, as well as reduce any anxiety in relation to an upcoming event. However, some associated items like, lack of sleep, the emotional connotations of one-night stands, drugs or alcohol can however impact performance. For example, if you stay up late, putting all of your energy into finding and attaining a one-night stand that can backfire on you emotionally and can leave you distracted and fatigued both physically and mentally. Thankfully, if you’re ensuring that these negative situations aren’t included in your romp then you’re good to go.

Clearly, sex is part of life — including the athlete’s life.” – Dr. Tommy Boone, American Society of Exercise Physiologists, and author of the book Sex Before Athletic Competition: Myth or Fact?

Muhammad Ali was known to abstain from sex for weeks before a big boxing match with the belief that the build-up of sexual tension would increase his aggression and that ejaculation would actually decrease his testosterone, causing a lack of strength. While we can’t deny the man’s talent or success, there is actually no scientific proof behind his abstinence.

Myth: Sex will decrease testosterone and aggression, therefore reducing performance.

Truth: Studies that tested strength, aerobic power and VO2 max found no difference between the athletes that were abstinent or those that were sexually active.

Dr. Tommy Boone conducted a test with a group of men, half of which had sex within the last 12 hours while the other half abstained. He found absolutely no difference in the performance of either groups. Dr. Ian Shrier and Samanatha McGlone came to same conclusions in their study.

Fun Fact: A survey of 2,000 London marathoners found that those who had sex the night before performed better on average than those who didn’t.

Now that you have all this wonderful information, be sure to make use of this science and have a good roll in the hay to ensure athletic success at your next sporting event.

Danielle Roberts is a Canadian freelance writer currently based out of Calgary. A self-professed dweeb with a dash of geek, Danielle attained a BA in English at the University of Calgary back in 2010. She has an obsession with running and cats and also loves to read, write and listen to angry music. You can follow her on twitter @PluviophileRead or check out her website.

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