“Yep yep I know- we should all do exercise because it’s healthy” I said to my boyfriend, mouth full of pepperoni and one slice shy of a full dominoes large pizza. I was in my tracksuit bottoms, spread-eagled on the sofa, and guilty in the knowledge I’d never exercised properly for any period of time in my whole life.
I know I know. There’s health benefits. Its good for you. I’ll get a bikini body. I’ll minimise cellulite and live a longer life…
It’s all well and good having that knowledge, but actually exercising and getting myself out there to do it, well… I kind of always felt like- whats the point?
However, reading Emily Nagoski’s book “Come as You Are” was a game changer for me, because it helped me finally unlock the actual benefits of exercise.
Emily (love her!) writes about the idea of the stress response cycle. Basically, when we see a stressor (this used to be something like a lion/tiger/bear) our brains go into fight or flight mode via the hormone cortisol being pumped into our blood stream. Cortisol gets us ready for survival, and anything not needed to stay alive (e.g. desire) is shut down in favour of being able to run or fight. Running away from the stressor keeps us alive, and the act of escaping reduces our cortisol levels because we know we’re now safe.
Because nowadays we have different stressors (e.g. work, the kids or the washing up) we often can’t outrun them- they’re part of our everyday life (chronic stress). Many of us have super high stress levels- mine so much so I don’t even notice I’m stressed because the feeling of being busy is just “normal”!
Because our bodies are in survival mode almost permanently, therefore our sense of desire is therefore diminished.
So, because we can’t escape our everyday stress, the solution to a lack of desire might lie in manually override the stress response ourselves.
To do this, Emily Nagoski recommends exercise, or more precisely, running!
This made SO much sense to me- we need to trick the body and mind into thinking we’ve run far enough from our stressors that we’re safe, and our brains can reset to relax (and therefore, increase desire). Genius.
That means our sexual wellness is intrinsically linked to our physical and emotional well-being- take care of the latter two and the former will take care of itself.
To feel the benefits of exercise, it’s not enough to only do it once or twice. Escaping your stress means taking up regular exercise that can reduce those levels of cortisol in your system and hopefully holds the key to your lack of libido. So think about the benefits of exercise not only to your body, but also your mind. And if it gets you bonking again, it’s totally worth it!