According to Dr Peter Biro and his colleagues in their latest study, people obsessed with staying fit may have higher sex drives and also tend to be more aggressive and socially dominant. The team was studying the relationship between behavior and metabolic rate in a number of insects, birds and animals.
Dr Biro, a senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales's Evolution and Ecology Research Centre, has written on the subject with Judy Stamps of the University of California, Davis, in a review article in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution.
Dr Biro said that there have been studies to suggest that those that had a higher metabolism, and thus tended to exercise more, appeared to exhibit particular behavior traits that often included a higher sex drive. He explained, “Some of us are couch potatoes while others are drawn to sport and exercise… We often associate the athletic ‘jock’ type or person with being aggressive and social, whereas the more sedentary 'nerd' often is seen as more socially awkward and submissive… These are generalizations, but most people would probably agree there is some truth to them.” “Animals in captivity often engage in energetically demanding behavior when they have unlimited food available…Mice spend considerable time on running wheels, for example, and other animals often pace back and forth in zoo enclosures. Given they don't need to move about in search of food as they would in nature, we might ask why they are apparently ‘exercising’…Recent research suggests that this behavior might be related to an individual's capacity to generate energy - its ‘metabolic capacity’,” he explains. Giving further examples he said, “Male crickets with sex on their mind tend to call to attract mates more and have higher metabolism than those with slower metabolism.”
The review also showed that rate of metabolism is linked to aggression. Earlier studies show that in several species of fish and birds, individuals with high metabolism tend to be more aggressive and dominant over those with slow metabolism.
According to Chris Jones, head of physiology at Nuffield Health regular exercise and levels of testosterone and adrenaline are linked. “There is evidence that enhanced testosterone and adrenaline in men and women does enhance libido…What's particularly interesting is that exercise also seems to have an effect on stopping the problems that lead to a decrease in libido,” he said.