The news that you can achieve an orgasm while working out in the gym may be just the incentive to get women back on those medicine balls and doing floor crunches, as the results of a new study suggest.
Scientists at the Centre for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University in the US have released data on the links between orgasms and physical exercise, which have been termed "coregasms", LiveScience reports.
"It may be that exercise, which is already known to have significant benefits to health and wellbeing, has the potential to enhance women's sexual lives as well," said lead researcher, Debby Herbenick, co-director of the centre.
The term "coregasm" stems from the evidence that these exercise-related orgasms are primarily induced by working out the core abdominal muscles.
Coregasms are not a new phenomenon but have not previously been studied at a research level.
American biologist and sexologist Alfred Kinsey, who founded the Institute for Sex Research at the Indiana University, first discovered the phenomenon in 1953 when he claimed that 5 percent of interviewees voluntarily reported that they had experienced orgasms related to physical activity.
"Despite attention in the popular media, little is known scientifically about exercise-induced orgasms," wrote the researchers in this month's issue of the journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy.
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The research looked at 370 women who claimed to have either had an orgasm or experienced some form of exercise-related sexual pleasure. Forty percent of those questioned had experienced either, or both, on more than 11 occasions in their lifetime.
Participants also reported feeling some level of embarrassment linked to this, unsurprisingly, especially when exercising in public.
The women surveyed were primarily aged between 18 and 62, with an average age of 30. Most also stated they were either married or in a relationship, with 69 percent of women being heterosexual.
Of the biggest orgasm-generating exercises, 45 percent of women said their first time was induced by abdominal exercise, 19 percent tied theirs to biking or spinning and 9.3 percent to climbing ropes or poles. Running and weightlifting each scored 7 percent.
Other exercises such as yoga, aerobics, and using elliptical machines were grouped together to form the remaining 12.7 percent of gym-generated orgasms, but more types of exercise overall were linked to sexual pleasure than coregasms specifically.
Other details in the surveys revealed that abdominal crunches performed on the "captain's chair" were the most common way to experience a coregasm: ie resting the forearms on the padded arm rest and lifting knees toward the chest repeatedly.
"Many of these women talked about it happening even as children … We had at least one woman in the study who was a virgin, and she really loved that she could have these experiences at the gym," Herbenick said.
The researchers have not yet worked out why certain exercises are related to sexual pleasure or induce orgasm more than others, but hope that further research will be able to shed light on the subject.
"I think from having talked with colleagues, while some people have heard of these [exercise-induced orgasms], many of our colleagues haven't either," Herbenick told LiveScience, but she also has no doubt that the research is based on substantial claims.
"Is this a tooth fairy type of thing or does it really happen?" she asked. "I have no doubt that it happens."
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