Low libido through endurance training

low libidoEndurance exercise increases endurance and improves health. A little extra endurance can go a long way in the bedroom as well. However too much of a good thing never helped anyone and this is true for endurance exercise as well. But does endurance exercise lower sexual libido? Researchers from the University of North Carolina were very interested and performed the following study.

What did the researchers do?

The researchers developed an online questionnaire in which they asked the participants questions about their libido and training habits, such as intensity, frequency and total weekly duration. They included a total of 1077 men older than 18 years in the study who answered all questions. The researchers divided the participants based on libido scores in a low libido group and a normal/high libido group and odds ratio’s were calculated.

What were the results?

After the analysis these were the results:

Figure 1 Training frequency

Figure 1: Training frequency and libido


Figure 2: Training volume and libido

Figure 2: Training volume and libido





















As you can see from the figures above, the more endurance training you do and the higher the intensity during those hours, the more likely the subjects are to have a low libido. The researchers also calculated the odds of having a low libido when the subject performs endurance exercise longer. Additionally the researchers calculated the odds ratio of the total training load by combining the amount of time and the training intensity of each week. Table 1 depicts these odds below:

Low volume (1-6 hours p/w) vs. high volume (>10 hours p/w): 4
Medium volume (7-10 hours p/w) vs. high volume (>10 hours): 2.5
Low total intensity vs. high intensity: 6.9
Medium intensity vs. high intensity: 2.8
Table 1: Odds ratio’s


What did the researchers conclude?

The risk of having a lower libido is 4 times higher when the subjects performed more than 10 hours a week of endurance exercise compared to the low volume group. Even the medium volume group still has a 2.5 times higher chance to have a low libido.

When looking at the total training load, the high training load group has a 6.9 times higher chance to have a low libido compared to the low total training load group. This drops to 2.8 times higher risk in the medium training load group.

There were several other interesting results in this study. For example, the more marathons or triathlons a person had completed, the higher the odds of a low libido. Another interesting fact was that the vast majority subjects who performed strength training had a normal or high libido.

What does this mean for you?

This is not a study to what causes a low libido, but to the connection between libido and endurance training. However some advice can still be distilled from this. There is a connection between high amounts of endurance exercise and total training load (training volume multiplied by intensity) and a lower libido. If you are training for weight loss and/or improving health or endurance you are better off performing high intensity interval training for a shorter period. The only reason to do this much endurance exercise is for running a marathon or triathlon. When suffering from a low libido, stop doing excessive endurance training and switch to interval training and strength training.


-Hackney, A.C. Lane, A.R., Register-Mihalik, J., O’leary, C.B. Endurance Exercise Training and Male Sexual Libido. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2017 in press.