The mainstream narrative of life after 40 has a lot of yellow lights. Your metabolism is slowing down. Your knees start creaking. Your oomph has shifted from a roar to a purr. But just because there is a certain reality that comes with the natural wear and tear of an aging body doesn’t mean that your sheets-wrinkling days are doomed.
To keep the green-light glowing on your sex life, it has less to do with what you do for those 30, 20, or 4 minutes, but more to do with the rest of your day. Which means this: You can improve the quality of your bedroom boogaloo most when you’re least likely to be thinking about it. If you’re harboring even more nasty quirks into your golden years, here are the 40 Ways to Develop New Habits After 40.
Take a Spin Class
Sexual function is controlled, in part, by the quality of bloodflow to your organs. Vigorous cardiovascular exercise—think at least three or four times a week where your heart rate jumps up to the point that you’re breathing hard—will prime your pumps.
“Because bloodflow is vital for sexual organs to function, whatever you can do to improve the health of your heart will improve your sex life,” says Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer of the Cleveland Clinic. One study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that 2 hours of vigorous exercise a week improves sexual function. If spin class isn’t really your speed (literally), Here’s Why You Don’t Have to Sweat to Get a Great Workout.
Talk Spreadsheets to Get Under Sheets
“Financial stress—the number 1 cause of problems in relationships—is related to lots of health problems, so when couples are having money issues, it usually means they’re also having trouble in the bedroom,” Roizen says. Especially for couples who have long-standing tension, it can be a complex process to clear up money stresses. But the first step: Schedule a financial meeting once a month between the two of you. Just the act of talking—even if you don’t always agree—gets things going in the right direction. And for more help with your finances, here are the 52 Ways to Be Smarter with Money in 2018.
Say Yes to Yellowfin
One of your greatest dietary allies: Healthy fats, like ones found in fish and nuts. “They will help lower inflammation, blood pressure, and your lousy LDL cholesterol. When they change, they can help improve sexual function,” Roizen says. And for more eating advice, here are 40 Heart Foods to Eat After 40.
Be a Routine-Breaker
There’s something to be said for relationship predictability. We have a comfort level in knowing that Friday is for movies, or that one of you will do the cooking and one of you will do the cleaning, or that both of you despise the Patriots.
But long-term couples should find ways to mix up the regular rhythm of their lives—with new outings, new restaurants, new couples to hang with. “The newer the activity, the greater the increase of the feel-good chemical dopamine,” which improves mood, says Ava Cadell, Ph.D., author of Neuroloveology. Better mood? Better mood!
Learn Sexonomics 101
Small gestures—invested early and often—earn compound interest. But you can’t cash in the stocks every day; you have to ride the wave of good and bad markets, but trust in the process that steady investments will build your relationship portfolio. If you’re a fella feeling romantically challenged? Try one of these 50 Ways to Be a (Much) More Romantic Man.
Lift Weights Twice a Week
Resistance exercises not only will help change your body weight and shape (both of which will have a physical and psychological benefits), but it also increases your testosterone.
“Testosterone is the key hormone for both men and women for sex drive,” Roizen says. “Resistance exercise helps increase muscle mass, which improves testosterone.” No access to dumbbells? A routine of bodyweight exercises: pushups, squats, and lunges will work. Remember: Forgoing dumbbells is one of the 40 Worst Habits for People Over 40.
And add plenty of hot peppers. One small study in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that spicy food increased testosterone.
Create a New Ritual That Becomes Yours
One that promotes partnership: Foot massages every Sunday night. Co-cooking every Thursday. A hard hike the first weekend of the month.
Remember the Hierarchy of Compliments
What you say matters.
When you say it matters more.
How you say it matters most.
Remember the Hierarchy of the Bedroom
What you do matters.
When you do it matters more.
How you do it matters most.
Remember the Hierarchy of Desire
How you look matters.
How you act matters more.
How you treat each other—every single day—matters most.
Add More Garlic
The breath-busting cloves have been shown to have artery-clearing benefits. (Playing for the long-term here, not the short-term.) And for more great advice, here are the 100 Best Anti-Aging Secrets.
Bulk Up Your B
One study found a correlation between low levels of sexual function and low levels of folic acid. Food with folate (vitamin B9): dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, and beans.
Buy Stock in Apples
A study in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics found that women who regularly ate apples had higher reported levels of sexual function. The speculation is that apples contain compounds like antioxidants that improve bloodflow (and thus arousal).
Have Verbal Sex
One British study that looked at sexual satisfaction reported that people felt lower levels of satisfaction if they couldn’t talk openly about sex with their partners. Need some conversation starters? Here are the 40 Best Compliments to Give Someone Over 40.
More Body Talk
Compliment your partner’s body parts—and not just ones associated with sexuality. A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine reported a correlation between lower body image and low levels of sexual satisfaction. It’s not that you change body image issues in a word or two, but it’s something to keep in the back of your mind: More insecurity means more inhibition. And for more about your body, here are the 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Your Body.
Deconstruct the Architecture of Sex
The Blueprint: Your actions, your heart.
The Foundation: Your words, your ears.
The Decorating: Your kisses, your touches.
An Italian study (natch!) found that those who had one or two glasses of red wine a day had higher levels of a sexual satisfaction, and another study found that red-wine drinkers had 30-percent lower levels of impotence. And that’s just one of the 80 Amazing Benefits of Wine.
Drop Those 10
Being in better shape means that you’ll, uh, be in better shape. “Waist size is directly related to sexual function,” Roizen says. “The higher it is, the higher chances you’ll have some dysfunction.”
Get Back in the Saddle
One study found lower satisfaction with couples who had sex fewer than four times in the past four weeks. It’s not that quantity means quality, but you have to have some quantity to have more quality.
A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that yoga helped improve sexual dysfunction and improve libido. Other benefits from practicing some poses: Improved breathing and control, as well as more flexibility. Note: In pre-bedroom banter, do not double-entendre the words downward dog.
Be the Snooze Button
One corporate survey found that the best time of day to have sex is the opposite time of when many couples have sex: 7:30 a.m seems to be ideal. Note: In pre-bedroom banter: it is okay to double-entendre the words “Good Morning, America!”
Apply Halloween Traditions, Part 1
Pumpkin seeds contain zinc, which can help improve testosterone.
Apply Halloween Traditions, Part 2
Chocolate can boost dopamine, a hormone that improves mood.
Apply Halloween Traditions, Part 3
Choose Berries Over Cookies
One of the biggest threats to a healthy sex life: Leaving toothpaste in the sink. Every. Single. Time. Another: A diet that pummels your insides. Decrease your intake of processed foods and replace them with ones that have artery-friendly compounds (yes, fruits and vegetables). “Foods with high amounts of added sugar increase your risk a number of problems that cause your arteries to function less efficiently—and that’s bad news for all body parts involved in sexual function,” Roizen says. For more: See the 20 Best Foods for Your Libido.
A thank you note: For the non-material gifts that your partner regular gives you.
Clean Up Dirty Talk
A Chapman University study about sexual satisfaction in long-term couples found that those who were more sexually satisfied say “I love you” during sex.
Gimme the 3 P’s
The same Chapman University study found that sexually satisfied couples reported that their sex was both passionate and playful. That’s in addition to prolonged—satisfying trysts lasted longer than 30 minutes, according to the research.
Relationship troubles—which helps define moods and overall satisfaction, which influences desire—should be thought of as a negotiation not a competition. Working together means dancing together.
Unite in Regular Doses
A small German study found that oxytocin—the bonding hormone that’s stimulated in moments of togetherness—can intensify orgasms as well as contentment after sex. Which perhaps makes the case for more hugs, more walks, more double-duty doing the dishes.
Pizza and watching Breaking Bad for the sixth time around can make for a nice quiet night, yes, but the tomatoes won’t hurt either. That’s because they contain lycopene, which helps protect the prostate (an organ that contributes to male sexual function).
Conflict that’s not addressed becomes the stake that drives couples out of the bedroom. To have happier encounters, be willing to have angrier ones.
Apply This Da Vinci Quote As You Wish
“Water is the driving source of all nature.”
Apply This Confucius Quote As You Wish
“Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance.”
Asparagus—for its various nutrients—has been linked to higher testosterone and sex drive.
Instead of dumping four buckets of sugar/syrup/cream/flavor-of-the-month into your coffee, sprinkle on some nutmeg. Some animal studies have shown that the spice improves sexual activity.
Break the Rut
“After many years of sex with the same person, the actual act of making love can take on a certain predictability,” Cadell says. Switch up something: The room, the position, the night of the week, the order in which you remove clothes, the channel.
The Next Time is Influenced by What Happened Last Time
A study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found a key ingredient to long-term relationship success: Cuddling
Hold the Door Open
So your partner can go ahead of you.
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