Olympic sex: Why going for gold in the bedroom WON'T actually ruin your sporting performance the next day
Unless you're 'up all night swinging from the rafters', says scientist
16:45 GMT, 31 July 2012
Let's get it on: There is no scientific evidence that sex is detrimental to a sporting performance the next day
Some 150,000 condoms have been shipped into the Olympic Village to ensure that, in the words of Boris Johnson, the 10,500 athletes 'inspire a generation' rather than 'create a generation'.
But will all OIympians be partaking in bedroom sports in those teeny tiny single beds and shared rooms
Or do some believe – as those original Olympians the Ancient Greeks did before them – that athletes should abstain from sex in the run-up to a sporting performance
Those who do may be frustrating themselves unnecessarily, as it now seems there is no evidence to support this myth, and that female Olympians may actually benefit from sex the night before their event.
(In which case, spare a thought for Lauryn and Russell Mark – and in particular, Lauryn – the Australian shooters who have been told they cannot share a room in the Olympic Village, despite being married, for fears it will inconvenience their roommates.)
Historically it has been widely thought that sexual
activity reduces physical prowess, eats up aggression and testosterone,
and leaves a body unable to perform adequately the next day.
Abstinence: The Ancient Greeks believed it was a good idea to refrain from sex before the Olympics, out of fears that such extra-curricular activities would sap up all a man's testosterone
For generations coaches, managers and athletes
have practiced abstinence the night – sometimes even weeks – before
big sporting events.
During the 2010 World Cup, England
manager Fabio Capello reduced his players' access to their WAGs, limiting couples' time alone together to just one day after each game.
And during the 1998 tournament, then coach Glenn Hoddle famously forbade his squad from having any sex at all.
As is reported by Reuters, Boxing supremo Muhammad Ali claims to have gone for six weeks without sex before big fights, and America's
Marty Liquori, once the world's best 5000m runner, said: 'Sex makes you happy. Happy people don't run a
Separated: Australian shooters Russell and Lauryn Mark have been told they can't share an Olympic room, despite being married
But according to scientists, no research done on the matter has found that sex reduces physical
strength, power or endurance.
Ian Shrier, a
professor in the department of family medicine at McGill University in
Canada, said: 'When we test people in the lab, we
are examining “tests of performance”, but in competition, psychology
very likely plays a much more important role.
'Those who claim it decreases performance usually say it
is because it decreases focus or aggression or tension. There are no
studies that have examined this.'
review of studies on the issue published in the Clinical
Journal of Sport Medicine suggested sex the night before competition has
no effect on results.
In one study, 14
married male former athletes were given a grip strength
test the morning after sex, and the same test having abstained from sex for six days.
The results showed neither muscle strength nor muscle endurance to be negatively affected by sex the night before.
follow-up study at Colorado State
University on 10 fit, married men aged between 18 and 45 tested grip strength, balance, lateral movement, reaction time, aerobic
power, and oxygen efficiency – sex did not impact negatively on any of these tests.
Built for one: The dainty beds in the Olympic Village don't really encourage snuggling
The theory that
sexual frustration makes people more aggressive, and that sex saps testosterone – an athletic performance-related hormone – out of the body, has never been scientifically proven.
Shrier said: 'Even if that theory
is correct, most people currently believe there is an optimal level of
aggression or focus – too little and you don't do well, too much and you
don't do well.'
Meanwhile, an Israeli physician named Alexander Olshanietzky is pro sex when it comes to female athletes.
Before the 1996 Atlanta games he said: 'We believe that a woman gets better results in sports competition after orgasm. Generally, it's true of high jumpers and runners. The more orgasms, the more chances of winning a medal.
'Coaches generally tell their athletes to abstain before competition. In the case of women, that's the wrong advice.'
Team GB: There is no evidence to suggest athletes should abstain from sex before a sporting even, so our 541 needn't worry
Martin Milton, an expert in
psychotherapeutic and counselling psychology at the University of
Surrey, said the difference sex made to athletic performance would completely depend on who was doing it, for how long, and with how much vigour.
She said: 'If it's “up all night
swinging from the rafters'” type sex we're talking about, then obviously
the athlete is not going to be getting enough sleep or rest and their
mind isn't on the job.
that might well be more the issue than whether or not being involved in a
short period of sex might be detrimental to someone's performance.'