Hitting the gym regularly might be shrinking your gut, but go too hard and something else might be diminishing, too: your sex drive.
At least, that’s what researchers out of the University of North Carolina is suggesting, after their study found that frequent and high intensity exercise is linked to a lower libido.
In the study of 1,077 active men who ran, walked, biked, swam, or lifted, those who said they trained at the lowest intensities were nearly 7 times as likely to report a normal or high libido than those who trained at the highest levels of intensity.
Plus, those with the highest duration of chronic training—the total number of hours per week they trained, multiplied by how many years they sustained it for—were about 4 times as likely to report a normal or high libido than those with lower training volumes.
This shows that the men who trained the hardest or for the longest were significantly more likely to report a lower libido.
Intense exercise training may spark a condition called “exercise hypogonadal male condition,” which occurs when the hormones testosterone and luteinising hormone are suppressed, the researchers say. It’s also possible that increased volumes of intense exercise can lead to both physical and mental fatigue, which can cut your desire and motivation for sex.
Still, it’s important to note that the study was done on men who already exercised - prior research has shown that increasing physical activity may actually boost testosterone levels for sedentary men.
The problem, then, seems to be going too hard for too long. For example, 15 per cent of guys in the study who exercised for more than 10 hours a week had a low libido, compared to just 2 per cent of men who exercise for 4 to 6 hours.
Bottom line: If you notice your sex drive flopping, loop in your doctor, and make sure to let him or her know your gym routine.
This article was originally published on MensHealth.com