How does anyone manage to feel sexy in a midlife body?

I have new wrinkles, sags, and saddle bags.

I see where you’re coming from. Hormonal changes often give us thicker middles and thinner hair and skin. The way we perceive our bodies affects how we feel about getting intimate. We probably all have personal experience with this, and research backs it up. Furthermore, culturally we rarely see women like us portrayed in sexual roles. No wonder it’s hard to feel like we are sexy in midlife.

Exercising helps us feel better about ourselves...and sexy, too.

There are several ways to address this, but right now I want to focus on just one—exercise, which can have an effect on a whole lot of things.

First, research shows that exercise improves body image, desire, and (our male readers will be happy to know) erectile functioning. It also leads to an increase in overall sexual satisfaction, according to research, the findings of which were published in the Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality.

Best of all, the research found that the exercise doesn’t even have to be strenuous: “Overall sexual satisfaction was significantly associated with all modes of exercise/physical activity (i.e., sport, aerobics, recreation, and strength training).” Walking, canoeing, or bike riding—they all work.

So the benefit of exercising isn’t just that it tones our bodies. It’s that we feel better about ourselves and our sex lives, maybe long before the effect shows up on our middle-aged middles.

Don’t even think of it as “exercise.” Just think of it as adding a little more activity that could lead to feeling better about your body.