Science says morning sex boosts work performance. Science says evening sex promotes a good night’s rest. More sex, in general, promotes feelings of self worth and strengthens one’s connection to their partner. Besides poor decisions and STDs, it’s safe to say sex is great.
But some athletic coaches and athletes beg to differ, claiming that engaging in sex prior to competitions zaps energy. It’s become such an engrained theory that teams have actually banned their players from doing the deed before they compete. Plato even wrote in 444 B.C. that Olympic competitors should avoid sexual intimacy before races. Muhammad Ali reportedly abstained from sex for two months prior to a big fight. Entire World Cup teams have implemented no-sex rules before big matches.
New research, however, has come to debunk the myth.
The new study, published in Frontiers in Physiology, has concluded that there “is no robust scientific evidence to indicate that sexual activity has a negative effect upon athletic results.”
“We clearly show that this topic has not been well investigated and only anecdotal stories have been reported,” researcher Laura Stefani said. “In fact, unless it takes place less than two hours before, the evidence actually suggests sexual activity may have a beneficial effect on sports performance.”
For their work, the authors sifted through hundreds of studies with the potential to provide evidence that sex negatively affects sports performance. The researchers set a number of criteria to filter out the most reliable of these studies, and ended up with just nine with which they could work. One of the studies concluded that the strength of female former athletes did not differ if they had sex the night before, and another observed a beneficial effect on marathon runners’ performance. Dr. Stefani and her colleagues were underwhelmed by the existing research on the subject matter.
It seems the no sex before a big game theory is just another superstition athletes can either continue to abide by—along with wearing dirty clothes and other odd traditions—or kick it to the curb.