As if we’re not inundated with enough bad news these days, a new study was just published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior that contained some truly depressing stats: Americans are having measurably less sex than they used to. As of 2014, married couples are down to 56 times a year (from 67 in 1989), and Millennials—yes, the Tinder-swiping, fun-loving, party generation—aren’t exactly pulling their weight in the bedroom, either. In fact, they’re having sex less than a previous generation. “The results suggest that Americans are having sex less frequently due to two primary factors,” write the researchers. “An increasing number of individuals without a steady or marital partner and a decline in sexual frequency among those with partner.”
Whatever the reasons, we’re here to ensure that your own libido isn’t one of them. We’ve compiled all of the simple lifestyle-modifying steps—from diet to gym work—that you can do every day to help guarantee consistent and hard erections when you need them. Let’s be clear: these tactics work. A 2014 study from the University of Adelaide in Australia found that 29% of guys who developed a problem getting it up over a five-year period were able to resolve any problems just by focusing on lifestyle behaviors. So work these into your routine, and thank us later. And don’t miss our 100 Easiest Ways to Be a Healthier Man Right Now.
1 Eat More Sweet Potatoes
Food filled with nutrients that boost blood vessel health and keep your heart healthy will help you fill your penis with more blood faster—and keep it hard longer. Arginine, for instance, helps your blood vessels relax and expand. (Find it in: Almonds, crab, pork, sesame seeds, tuna, turkey, and walnuts.) Nitrates can improve erections by thinning blood and widening blood vessels. (Find it in: Arugula, basil, beets, dill, celery, endive, kale, leeks, spinach, and watercress.) And potassium is essential for a strong heart and smooth muscle contraction. (Find it in: Avocado, bananas, lentils, lima beans, and sweet potatoes.) For more tips, check out these 52 Super-Fast Health Boosters.
2 Reduce Stress Through Meditation
Yes, stress is a killer. It’s also a libido killer. Take control of how stress affects you by taking the time to meditate during your day. And you don’t have to get in the lotus position. A 5-minute stroll when you are feeing harried can work miracles. Make it as informal as you want, start your day with it, or simply take a few moments to focus your attention on deep breathing when you’re feeling anxious. And yes, learning to meditate is one of the 100 Ways to Live to 100.
3 Eat for Testosterone Support
Several studies show that you can boost your sex drive and sperm-producing hormone by upping your consumption of the following nutrients:
—Vitamin D: it’s actually a hormone itself and can boost testosterone. It’s essential for keeping your endocrine system—which includes the testes—pumping. Find it in: Beef liver, cheese, eggs, fortified foods (cereal, milk, orange juice, soy milk) mackerel, salmon, and sunlight.
—Zinc is an essential mineral that can boost testosterone in those who are deficient and help keep levels normal. Find it in: Beef, chickpeas, lamb, lentils, oats, oysters, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa.
—Magnesium works similarly to zinc to bump up T levels when low, and is thought to free up bound testosterone, making it more available in the body. Find it in: Clams, coffee, chocolate, kale, oysters, spinach, and Swiss chard.
And check out these 6 Ways to Boost Your Testosterone—Guaranteed.
4 Explore Herbs and Supplements
Studies have shown that plenty of herbs—including Maca (part of the broccoli family), Ginko biloba, Tribulus terrestris, Eurycoma longifolia (also known as “tongkat ali”), and Fenugreek—are great at increasingly libido and boosting your sexual function. But remember: these are not regulated by the FDA, and you may not want to mix them with certain prescription medicines. And check with your doctor before using any of these and consult with a naturopath or herbalist for proper dosage.
5 Re-Think Your Medications
When you get older, you inexorably discover that medications become a more frequent and persistent presence in your life. We’re talking about drugs including high blood pressure medications, statins and fibrates for high cholesterol, antidepressants like clomipramine, benzodiazepines that help treat anxiety, and H2 blockers for gastrointestinal disorders like GERD. Check with your doctor if you are lacking the sex drive department and see if your medications may be the culprit. And while you’re there, remember the 9 Medical Tests You Should Always Demand from Your Doctor.
6 Plan a Special Night
Boosting sex drive isn’t just about things you can do for yourself, but it’s also about setting up a scenario like a date night or a special event that will get you and your partner better in the mood. Retreating a bit from the stressors of the day and spending undivided attention on each other is a simple way to put the focus on you and your partners’ sexual desires. One great way to elevate the mood is to give a mind-blowing massage.
7 Take More Naps
Proper, restful, and restorative sleep is one of the best things we can do to promote overall health. It’s especially important if you are working out vigorously. (Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night will help your body recovery from exercising and promote more muscle building.) It’s also imperative for keeping testosterone levels high and your sex drive on point. But getting sleep whenever you can is important. According to Sara Mednick, PhD, a sleep medicine researcher at the University of California at San Diego and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life, a 20-minute power nap can increase your sex drive. And if you’re having trouble getting a full night’s rest, here are our tips for getting a full eight hours—every night.
8 Cut back on the booze
You don’t need to stop drinking, but you should regulate your use on the nights that your want to get lucky. Though one to two drinks a day is said to be linked with longevity and lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and dementia, don’t over do it. Stick with just one or two glasses of wine or beer the night of as too much can dampen mood because it’s a depressant, causing temporary erectile dysfunction. If you think you’re overdoing it, read this to know What Your Boozing Habits Say about Your Health.
9 For the umpteenth time: stop smoking
Well, duh. It’s definitely time to drop the cancer sticks if you haven’t received the memo yet. Besides killing you in the long-term, smoking is also linked to erectile dysfunction. The same reason smoking messes up your heart is why it can hurt your sexual performance—it ups risk of developing atherosclerosis, or plaque build up in your arteries, which obstructs blood flow. Not good for keeping it up.
10 Hit the gym at least three days a week
This one is pretty much a no-brainer, but seriously, even if you don’t have problems in the bedroom, you should be getting plenty of intense exercise for multiple health reasons. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, or 75 vigorous minutes to keep your cardiovascular system strong and powerful enough to send blood downtown when you require a little stiffness.