Thought about leading a healthier lifestyle but haven't gotten around to doing it? Here's a possible incentive: Experts say people who are mentally and physically fit are more likely to have good sex lives.
"If you feel good about yourself, you are in a better position to feel good about relationships, including your sex life," says Karen Zager, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in New York City.
"When one is not feeling well, and is exhausted, it can certainly have a negative impact on the quality of one's sex life," says Saralyn Mark, MD, a senior medical adviser at the Office on Women's Health.
This may all seem intuitive, yet many people find the road to a fitter mind and body to be bumpy, especially if it involves losing weight, starting an exercise program, reducing stress, or getting enough sleep.
One big reward, though, is to look and feel better -- arguably a plus for good romantic and sensual activities.
While there is no proven connection between a balanced diet and bedroom performance, a poor diet can cause health problems that can possibly interfere with sex.
Studies show animals that get too few calories tend to have weakened immune systems, says John Allred, PhD, professor emeritus of nutrition at Ohio State University. He says illness can be a big hurdle for pleasurable intercourse.
"If you have heart disease, then you might be taking medication that would inhibit sexual activity, or you might be afraid to have a heart attack," says Allred. "If you have the flu, a high fever, or just don't feel good ... any of these things would be a turn-off."
Mark Kantor, PhD, associate professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Maryland, agrees, saying, "You will feel sexy if you look and feel good."
A way to do that is to eat an overall balanced diet and to exercise each day. The two go hand-in-hand, says Kantor, as demonstrated by today's obesity problem, in which people eat too much food and aren't active enough.