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Sex please, we are athletes: sex and sports performance

Every reality has its own myths. There is no environment that is immune to it, not even sport. And although awareness of physical activity seems to be spreading more and more, there are hard beliefs to overcome. Above all, one: the one who sees sex as an element that negatively affects athletic performance.
More than half the truth, in this case it would be appropriate to speak of a false myth. There is no scientific evidence to support the thesis "No sex before sport". On the contrary, the (few) research on this issue depicts a very different scenario.
In short, good news for athletes.

A belief that comes from afar

What makes the legend of the performance's enemy sex legend particularly stubborn is its ancient and authoritative origin? It is probable: thousands of years ago, it was claimed that abstinence is good for sport. Already in the 1st century B. C. the Greek doctor Areteo of Cappadocia stated that renouncing sexual activity would increase the strength of a man, and before him even Plato had argued on the matter, inviting athletes to abstain before competitions.

Still today, there are those who follow these archaeological footprints, perpetuating the ideas of the ancients: the coach of the Bosnian national football team, for example, has invited the players' partners not to follow them in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. But searches in hand, it doesn't seem naive to assume that the team would have obtained better results if the players were in Rio in two.


False, but above all little studied

It is an all-Italian research that dispels the myth once and for all, even if the results of the study conducted by the University of Florence reveal a fact that cannot be overlooked: the lack of methodologically accurate research on the relationship between sexual activity and sports performance. Of the 500 studies examined by the researchers, only 9 appeared worthy of further study, but none of them seemed to be systematically addressing the issue.

In any case, there was unanimous agreement on the definitive thesis: sex has more positive than negative consequences on physical activity.

If the beneficial impact on the body seems to be generalized, the greatest benefit is psychological: sex has a relaxing effect and helps relieve competitive stress, making it particularly beneficial for endurance sports and those requiring a very high level of concentration. Provided that sleep is not sacrificed to do so.


A rule: no rules

For a long time, the myth of pre-competitive abstinence was supported by the idea that there was a link between sperm and testosterone. Essentially, it was believed that storing sperm could hold high or even increase the level of hormone in the body. Reality seems to be not only different, but exactly the opposite. The research commissioned by sex toys brand Adam&Eve on the relationship between sex, masturbation and athletic performance, which concluded that it is not sex that has a negative impact on performance, but rather abstinence.
And the living experience of athletes seems to confirm this thesis: 60% of sportsmen and women claim to have obtained the best results in tests that they have undergone after sexual activity.

The same research has produced, among others, two other data sets of great interest: in particular for male athletes, masturbation would have an even more significant effect on the body than sexual intercourse, improving agility and physical strength; and to count more than anything else in the sex-sport relationship would be, once again, a psychological aspect: very simply, to think that your sexual activity negatively impacts on athletic performance leads to an actual drop in performance and thinking the opposite leads to an actual improvement.

Beyond popular beliefs, among coaches of professional athletes the agreement is (almost) total: the best rule is not to establish any rules, leaving the choice on sex before competitions to the individual athlete.

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