Does Sex Before Sports Competition Affects Performance – What’s Science Take On This?
You must have heard that legendary boxer Muhammad Ali use to abstain from sex weeks before throwing himself into the ring. Whether sex before competition affects performance, has been rightly or wrongly portrayed since decades or maybe since ages. For many amongst the sports fraternity, this is still a taboo. This unwritten rule is followed by coaches and their players to abstain from sex before big competitions.
However, on the flipside, there are people such as athletes who swear to indulge in sexual activities before their competition. Even Pele, the legendary footballer once confessed that he never suspended sexual activities before a match as it helped him relax. The same was reiterated by Christiano Ronaldo that sex before match made him play better.
But what’s the perception of science on this? Let’s take a look at different studies on the topic.
1. Sex before racing makes you run faster
It holds some weight, at least according to a recent study conducted by researchers at Oxford University. The researchers questioned 2,000 people participated in London Marathon race. They found that runners who had sex a night before the race were 5 minutes faster as compared to those who refrained.
The idea behind this theory is that endorphins, the feel-good hormones released after sex can make you feel positive and confident during the competition next day.
2. Sex before competition has no significant difference in performance
According to an article published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, indulging in sexual activity the night before any sports competition does not have any effect neither on endurance nor the ability of the heart to pump blood and oxygen transfer to muscles.
Another study was published by Tommy Boone, Ph.D. and the Member of the American Society of Exercise Physiologists. The study which compared men’s performance on a treadmill found that there was no notable difference in performance of participants who had sex 12 hours before nor the participants who abstained. The same conclusion was extracted from other studies on the impact of pre-competition sexual activities on performance.
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3. Sex two hours before workout can negatively affect performance
A study was conducted by researchers from Geneva on 16 high-profile athletes coming from different fields having their respective training and sexual activity plan. These participants were told to go through a highest graded stress test on a cycle with an ergometer, two hours after sex. The same test was conducted on another day but this time without morning sex. The study revealed that cross-country skiers and footballers showed reduced performance and took longer time to recover than normal.
Another study led by researchers at University Clinic of Cologne reported the same results. The participants coming from strength training and speed sports exhibited decreased performance up to two hours after having sex. This could occur because sex decreased levels of testosterone in men after the sex that could result in the drop of aggression. But this particular study didn’t inhibit performance of the endurance athletes.
To be honest, lovemaking is not a demanding exercise. It does require energy, so when it comes to participating in a competition, sex should be at the appropriate time, not just right before a competition as mentioned in the above study. A night before competition may give you some benefit, but 2-3 hours before a competition may subdue your performance, especially sports involving endurance, strength, and speed.
On the contrary, women experience an increased level of testosterone during sex, so when it comes to short distance race, it may improve their performance by raising their aggression as well as the activity level.
So, there you have it. It’s nothing bad in planning a passionate evening a day before your big game. This is especially important as usually, most athletes reduce their workout or practice on the day before competition in order to save energy on the big day. So, if they didn’t have sex a night before, they could feel trouble in sleeping, tossing and turning on the bed.