If getting your groove on seems more like work than fun these days, Valentines Day offers the perfect opportunity to jump-start your libido and turn your love from dull duty to a can't-miss event.
After all, studies show that having an active, intimate sex life with your partner is key to cultivating a long-lasting and happy relationship. But if the sizzle has slowed between your sheets, chances are that it is more than your bedroom skills that need shaping up. Research has found a direct correlation between regular physical exercise and increased sexual potency-- for both men and women.
According to Naina Marballi, founder and head practitioner of Bioticare Holistic and Yoga Center located in New York City, working it well in bed means working out regularly.
"Any regular cardiovascular exercise and deep stretching that increases blood flow specifically to the buttocks, pelvis and groins area -- such as yoga, power walking, jogging or cycling--is going to increase circulation to the genitals, and as a result, rekindle sexual arousal and orgasmic function."
For both men and women, getting to the gym and yoga studio will boost your endurance, strength and flexibility--all key to unlocking the secrets of a healthier sex life.
Endurance: To ensure that love making lasts more than a few minutes, you and your partner need endurance and vigor. To increase stamina and keep your endorphins (those "feel good hormones") flowing, cardiovascular workouts are advised three to five days a week for at least 20 to 30 minutes at a time.
Any vigorous sport or exercise that gets your heart rate and body temperature up, and blood pumping will give you that extra boost of energy you will need when it really counts.
Strength: Holding positions in bed demands a certain amount of muscle power. Weightlifting at the gym will ensure the right muscles fire up when the heat is on. Lifting lighter weights for several repetitions at a time will tone the upper and lower body, prevent leg and foot cramping at inconvenient moments and build your self-confidence.
Core strengthening and sit-ups are also recommended to strengthen your abdominal muscles, which are essential to effective lovemaking.
Flexibility: Let's forget about holding positions for a moment and focus on getting in and out of them. Yoga, a 5,000 year old practice of integrating the mind, body and spirit, is more than just "breathing in and breathing out." In fact, having a regular yoga practice not only makes you more limber, but more importantly increases blood flow and circulation throughout the body, stimulating all of your nerve endings and increasing you and your partner's chances of heightened pleasure.
Going With the Flow
Although men tend to suffer from sex problems caused by poor blood flow more often than women, research shows that the same problem affects women's sex drives.
"Women are also affected by lack of sexual arousal often due to low blood flow to the genitals and hardened arteries," says Ms. Marballi. "However, when the arteries and blood vessels are optimally functioning, a women's vaginal tissues swell with blood creating a feeling of sexual arousal."
Commonly taught yoga postures such as warrior I & II, fierce pose, locust, butterfly, upward facing dog and full wheel, are designed specifically for opening the hips, groin and pelvic area where these very important blood vessels are located.
On a psychological note, yoga also relaxes the mind and reduces stress, which is key for any successful sex life.
Thinking about exercise from a "sexual healing" perspective may get those of us who keep putting it off until next week, month or year, that extra incentive to get things into motion now.
Gaining more energy for your love life and ultimately for the health of your relationship will make this Valentines Day a very special one indeed.
So get up and go for a run, lift a few weights, find your inner warrior and transform yourself into that energetic and enthusiastic lover you have always wanted to be. You might find that getting your groove on has never felt so good!
Reviewed by Dr. Manny Alvarez
For more great information on living healthy through every decade of life, click here to check out Dr. Manny's book The Check List (Harper Collins, 2007).
Dr. Manny Alvarez is the managing editor of health news at FOXNews.com, and is a regular medical contributor on the FOX News Channel. He is chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Additionally, Alvarez is Adjunct Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at New York University School of Medicine in New York City.