You probably already envy every woman who passes you during a road race. If you don’t (and good for you, taking the high road!), you’re about to: Fast endurance runners may have higher sex drives and better sex lives than their slower-paced competitors, according to a new study published in PLOS ONE.
For the study, researchers from the University of Cambridge’s Division of Biological Anthropology stood at the finish line of the Robin Hood half-marathon in Nottingham in the United Kingdom and took down the race times of 542 male and female competitors. They also photocopied their hands.
Why touch all of those sweaty hands? Because looking at a person’s finger length is the most accurate way to tell if he or she was exposed to high or low levels of testosterone in the womb. Research shows that people who were exposed to the most testosterone have ring fingers that are longer than their index fingers.
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And as the hand-photocopiers found, long-ring-fingered people are also faster runners. The 10 percent of men with the most testosterone-stoked digit ratios (their ring fingers were way longer than their index fingers) were, on average, 24 minutes and 33 seconds faster than the 10 percent of men with the least testosterone-y ratios (their ring fingers were way shorter than their index fingers). Meanwhile, the 10 percent of women who were exposed to the most prenatal testosterone were 11 minutes and 59 seconds faster, compared to female competitors who had been exposed to the least amount of T.
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As if faster times weren’t awesome enough (at least if you have long ring fingers), consider this: Previous studies suggest that higher testosterone levels in men and women contribute to higher sex drives, so researchers think that fast endurance runners are on top of more than just their running game. Plus, women with high levels of testosterone orgasm more often than their low-T counterparts, according to research in Hormones and Behavior.
From an evolutionary standpoint, it makes perfect sense that long-distance runners would always be ready for a go in the sack. Athletic endurance was, after all, key to helping our ancestors outpace predators and track down dinner, researchers note. Runners were ideal mates, and the higher their sex drives, the more likely they would be to procreate. Or, as far as we’re concerned now, get their jollies.
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Staring at your hands in disappointment? Exercise can boost your testosterone levels, running times, and sex life. And research from a team of Turkish scientists suggests that regular physical exercise (10 or more hours a week) may help increase testosterone in women.