Are these three things even related?
Strangely enough, they are all intimately related and related to intimacy. There is a lot of action nowadays in the research world about how improving the body improves the mind. The whole concept of something called “neuroplasticity,” which states that the brain is not hard-wired but flexible as new things are learned, has made the mind-body-sex connection a prominent direction for exploration. And a fun one, too.
There aren’t any places in your body busier than your brain. Even at night, when what you learned or experienced is filed away for long-term retrieval. In fact, as you read this article you are making certain patches of brain cells (neurons) connect up to each other, creating learning and memory, and tonight you will “defrag” the information and make it part of yourself. As Dr. Norman Doidge points out in his book, The Brain That Changes Itself, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.”
Apply this to your physical body, which is directed by your brain cells, and it’s not difficult to imagine how the results of exercise on your muscles send to your brain feedback that changes its firing and wiring. What has been discovered is that it’s all good feedback. Physical fitness breeds mental fitness breeds more physical fitness breeds more mental fitness. And so on.
Mental fitness means the chemicals that are used for your neurons to communicate are balanced. If an imbalance can result in moodiness, depression, even bipolar disorder, then a balanced brain can only improve your mood. And your sex drive (I’ll get to that—promise).
Use it or lose it
You need to use your muscles to get them bigger. Exercise routines make them bigger in two ways. First, they make the muscle fibers you have bigger and stronger; second, they create “new” muscle by adding length to the ones you have and combining together fibers with a repair of the ones damaged during exercise.
According to the Australian “Better Health Channel”, resistance training increases muscle strength by making your muscles work against a weight or a force, which can be done with free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or even your own body weight. You need to start out by training two to three times a week to see any significant benefit, and you should change things up every six to eight weeks. You can vary by changing the number of sets, repetitions, types of exercise or machines, the frequency of your sessions, and the timing of your breaks.
You should warm up first, always, to “elasticize” the muscles you plan on stretching to capacity. Don’t learn this the hard way with a popped tendon or a ruptured muscle.
Feed it or mislead it
Muscle metabolism is based on protein. The right amount of exercise along with adequate protein intake can make sure that your body’s manufacture of muscle protein is more than its muscle protein breakdown. While resistance exercise improves this balance toward the positive (anabolic), eating right during the window of muscle metabolism created by a good resistance workout will enhance the entire process. This window lasts only about 48 hours, so timing can be important in getting the necessary protein and the amino acids that make protein. This means resting your muscles for a couple of days so that the natural repair can take place to build on what you damaged with your exercise. From this concept came the rationale of gym visits every other day. It’s smart. It’s necessary.
A good diet will also balance out your insulin, which plays a part in regulating the building muscle from protein. Testosterone also regulates the protein conversions, so testosterone supplements can be beneficial if you have a documented testosterone deficiency; otherwise, it may harm you. If the balance is negative, like with starvation diets and lack of exercise, this is the opposite of anabolic—called catabolic.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, it is recommended that 10-35 percent of your daily energy intake comes from protein. If a 2,000 calories diet, this means consuming between 200 to 700 calories of protein per day. The recommended daily intakes (RDIs) can also be calculated by a person’s body weight. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that the average individual should consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram or 0.35 grams per pound of body weight per day for general health.
Last but not least
Or should I say, “Leaving the best for last”?
Sexual health—sexual wellness—depends on a fit mind and a fit body. Your mood is crucial as well. Sex drive is part of the total picture, and fit sexual performance further enhances the sex drive cyclically. We are sexual creatures, created from sex and creating with sex. We love sex and we love with sex. The psychological components of the sex drive are very complex and not well understood, but one thing is clear:
Muscle fitness and physical fitness play an important role in mood, which plays an important part in sex drive.
So here is the plan you need to put into action:
- Work out every other day, or at least twice to three times a week. Use resistance training, best begun by a personal trainer who can get you on the right track, and in a gym which will maximize your safety. Use free weights, resistance machines, resistance belts, and resistance against gravity with your own body. (You supply the body, the Earth supplies the gravity. Just be thankful you’re not on Jupiter.)
- Always warm up before taxing your muscles beyond capacity. Warming up increases capacity, so take advantage of that.
- Take a two-day break between exercise days. During the 48-hour break from your resistance training, you should build muscle with protein, respecting this 48-hour anabolic window that resistance exercise creates. The best strategy is to work with the timing of your body’s physiology.
- Follow the protein intake recommendations and don’t be fooled by thinking the more protein, the more muscle—that’s only true up to the recommendations; more may damage your kidneys.
- Always be current on your medical status, especially before any changes in your life routines or in exercise. A physical trainer can only provide so much insight; physicians, physical therapists, and even social workers have an opinion and an impact.
- Take a full inventory of the things that affect your mood negatively. Even the most aggressive exercise and dietary manipulation will do nothing to make you happy when you’re fretting over marital problems, finances, or the dog next door. You might not be able to do anything about the neighbor’s dog yipping all night, but you can make strategies to improve your situation. Marriage counseling, financial advisors, even life coaches can be a great help in clearing out the emotional garbage that will throw a wrench into the fitness-mood-sex cycle. Even if you can’t solve all of your problems, at least your creating a strategy is in itself therapeutic. Doing absolutely nothing is absolutely profitless.
- If you’ve tried these tactics but still aren’t seeing the results you’d like, consider talking to your doctor about implementing testosterone therapy or HGH treatment into your wellness regime.
You improve your mood with fitness and you improve your sex drive with mood. It’s not a vicious cycle, but a visceral cycle. As cycles go, this one goes better with all of the parts. (Try to ride a bike without pedals or wheels!)
So gaining muscle, improving your mood, and your sex drive are indeed related. You can benefit from hormone therapy clinics that show you how. But trying to figure which comes first in the cycle is like debating the cliché, “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Don’t try. It’s a package deal, so just accept it and buy the whole package, because the sum is greater than the addition of the parts.