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Dr Michelle Mars - Sexual fitness - 8 May

In this segment we will talk about the what, when, why and how of (s)exercise providing viewers with a workout plan to improve their sexual fitness.

Sex is good but better sex is better. Good sex is about technique, love and intimacy. Our brains are our biggest sex organs but our bodies carry out our sexual desires. A body that is fit for sex is better able to accomplish our sexual wishes.

Building up strength, flexibility and rhythm in your sexual centre means better sex at the same time as it improves your general health and wellbeing.

Being fit for better sex does require a healthy body and good amount of general fitness but it also requires some attention to the sex muscles and the other muscles that we use to achieve orgasm. Toning these muscles improves the length and strength of orgasms.

You can be in very good condition physically for many things, sport, dancing, skiing, tramping and so on but that doesn't mean your body is fit for sex. We receive training for sport and recreation from an early age. Physical exercise is compulsory in schools and we get a lot a coaching for things like rugby and netball. Particular sports and recreational pursuits require us to concentrate on particular parts of our bodies and we get special exercises and training from more experienced players. But when it comes to sex silence reigns.

It is socially acceptable to talk about intimacy and love and sexual health, so why are the physical aspects of sexual encounters such a secret? Because it's about parts of the body that we consider private, like the genitals, or dirty like the anus. Also because many adults don't know very much about their sexual fitness anatomy and many adults are embarrassed to talk about what goes on 'down there'.

'Down there', where the sexual organs sit is a very important part of the body. It's the core or sexual centre of the body.  It's particularly important to pay attention to this part of the body after child birth and for women and men as we start to age. The rest of the organs that drive the body are located directly on top of our sexual organs and as we begin to age we notice changes with things like urination, menstruation, strength of erection and so on.

It is very important to build up strength, flexibility and rhythm in your sexual centre. Not only does it improve your capacity to achieve sexual pleasure it is also incredibly good for your overall health and wellbeing.

You can have a strong tummy and great abs but that still doesn't mean you are fit for sex. Building up sexual strength requires dedicated practice just like any other kind of fitness. At antenatal classes women get told to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles and men are beginning to become aware that they need to keep an eye their prostates as they age.  But I think the message doesn't really get through and most of us will do a token number of meagre repetitions if we happen to think of it. 

What is really required, for both women and men, if you want to improve urinary continence, have great sex, keep your prostate fit,  healthy and disease free, gain control over ejaculation and generally improve your health and wellbeing is to put some effort and energy in like you would on the sports field.

It's not about 10 or 20 or 30 measly squeezes. It's about working out. First you have to locate your pelvic floor muscles around your perineum and vagina. They are the ones we use to begin and end urination so the best place to find them is on the toilet. Try stopping and starting urination until you get the hang of where they are and then once you have them it's time to give them a work out. Try squeezing them fast and slow. Experts can differentiate up to 9 different levels of constriction from soft to weak. Most fit and healthy people should be able to feel at least two.

The muscles around the vagina, perineum and anus all need exercise. Ideally you should be able to differentiate between your pelvic floor muscles located toward the front of your body and the sphincter muscles around your anus. But if you can't feel the difference yet it doesn't matter because all the muscles in this part of the body are very close to one another and squeezing the perineum, anus and vagina (if you  have one)  all at the same time gives your whole sexual centre a really good work out.
Flexibility is also important. It is not about contortionism or tying yourself in knots Karma Sutra style. It's about very subtle movements in the area around the hips and tail bone. Because we spend a lot of time sitting down on chairs our hips and tailbones tend to become fixed and immovable and this limits the flexibility. Flexibility is very important for good sex.

Think about sexy dances and they all involve a little hip movement. There is a big muscle in humans called the Psoas (pronounced "so-az") muscle. In beef it's the tenderloin and in humans it is also quite large around 12 inches. The psoas muscle starts around the bottom of the spine and winds down and right around inserting into the top of the leg.  It's the source of a lot of back pain and keeping it strong and flexible is really important for good sex. An easy way to begin get things moving again here is to put on some sexy music and have a little dance or to make a motion like you were hula hooping or hula dancing. You can also try moving your hips in a figure of 8. Make sure that your tail bone is tucked under and your bottom isn't sticking out.

Rhythmic music gets us going. It's great for exercise and great for sex. Sex is all about rhythm and you can get better at feeling the rhythm of sex by practicing while you do your pelvic floor exercises.  Contract the anus and the perineum and vagina in rhythmic sets of 9. Try combinations of different rhythms 9 fast 9 slow, 9 strong 9 gentle or 3 strong, 3 soft, 3 strong and so on. Have fun play around.

Sex is good for you and like anything if you practice you will gain more strength, control, and flexibility and importantly more control over your own sexual pleasure, you will get better at sex and increase your sexual and overall wellbeing. The rest of your body sits on top of your sexual centre and if this is healthy, pert and in good shape the rest of your body will benefit.