(BLOOMINGTON, Ind.) — Some women don’t need a lover or sexual fantasy to experience sexual pleasure or even orgasm. As a new study suggests, exercise can do the trick.
For years, fitness and women’s magazines have touted the apocryphal “coregasm,” but now researchers at Indiana University say that hundreds of women are getting the unintended benefits of those tummy crunches.
An estimated 45 percent of the women who responded to the researchers’ online request for women who had either exercise-induced orgasm (EIO) or exercise-induced sexual pleasure (EISP) said their first experience was during abdominal exercises, followed by weight lifting (26.5 percent), yoga (20 percent), bicycling (15.8 percent), running (13.2 percent) and walking/hiking (9.6 percent).
“For me as a scientist, that’s a stripped down version of orgasm, without sex or a partner,” said co-author Debby Herbenick, co-director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University.
Any exercise that involves the core muscles seems to trigger that sense of pleasure — chin-ups, climbing ropes and especially the “captain’s chair,” a rack with padded arm rests that allows the legs to hang free before lifting the knees to the chest.
A handful of women said they even had sexual feelings while mopping or walking.
From a physiological standpoint, “coregasm” makes sense, according to fitness experts. In both exercise and sex, the heart rate and breathing are faster and there is increased blood flow.
Herbenick said this “exploratory” study is a first step to learning more about the “physical processes” of sexual pleasure.
“Orgasm is something we really know nothing about — not scientifically,” she said. “[Sexologist Alfred] Kinsey mentioned it in his [Sexual Behavior in the Human Female] book in 1953, and it sort of got left there.”
The study was published in a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal, Sexual and Relationship Therapy.
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