How Too Much Time Outdoors Can Torpedo Your Sex Drive

Aim for gentler sessions in nature...or you won't have any energy left for later

A couple eating hot dogs outside on the beach.
Long walks on the beach are probably better for your sexual performance that hard sessions in the mountains.
ClassicStock / Contributor

In our previous coverage on “overtraining syndrome,” we talked to athletes whose rigorous routines have left them physically fatigued and emotionally burnt out.

A Red Bull ultrarunner named Dylan Bowman explained to us how a legacy of overtraining is closely intertwined with the trail running community. He’s managed to reel himself in at crucial junctures, but he couldn’t say the same for some of his peers:

“We’re inherently hard-working people who want to be at our best…but too often, we conflate training longer and harder with being better…Many of my friends and competitors have stepped over the line severely, resulting in several years of injury and seemingly inexplicable drops in performance. Some were never the same again.”

OTS is a psychological issue, with physiological manifestations. Many of those manifestations are predictable (supreme exhaustion, muscle soreness, susceptibility to illness), but there are some surprising ones, too, like diminished libido.

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For people who spend a ton of time in the great outdoors — and especially for men — “[too much] action could hurt your performance in the bedroom.” Outside recently published an article on the concept, acknowledging that while a steady exercise routine typically increases one’s libido, it’s possible to overdo it.

And outdoorsmen love to overdo it. Gung-ho hikers, cyclists, trail runners, surfers, you name it — anyone who spends more than seven hours a week chasing endurance pursuits in unforgiving environs is putting their body through regular beatings. It stands to reason that those bodies might not feel primed for another sort of activity later in the day or week. (Check out this study, and this one, for more of the science on “libidinal lulls.”)

It goes without saying that a ho-hum sex life isn’t the dream for most couples. And if the outdoor sport (likely already taking up passion, time and money) starts to seem responsible for zapping one partner’s sexual energy…you’ve got the makings of a real relationship wedge on your hands.

However intense the impact on one’s sex drive, then, whether subtle (you get home tired, you don’t want to fool around), or clinical (a condition called hypogonadotropic hypogonadism) the key is to find some sort of balance. Or, you know, to start exercising in gentle ways. (Long walks on the beach: no longer just romantic…now pretty sexual?) Obsessive training, meanwhile, will torpedo your performance — both on the trails, and in the bedroom.

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