Sex: Exercise Your Way to Better SEX; If Your Love Life Needs Some Va Va Voom, Put Down the Kama Sutra and Head for the Gym. Certain Activities Will Get You in the Mood and Boost Your Staying Power. by LOLLIE BARR

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IF things have become boring in the bedroom, maybe you're not spending enough time in the gym. Especially since new research reveals that working out can seriously improve your sex life.

Exercise sends the blood racing to your pelvic region, getting you in the mood.

Not only that, but being fit and toned means love-making sessions last longer and you are more flexible when it comes to trying exciting new positions. Even better, you get more powerful orgasms.

That's apart from all the other obvious health benefits of regular exercise - it helps you lose weight, boosts your energy levels and slashes your risk of serious illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer, by around 40 per cent.

Still not convinced that you should go for a run to zip up your sex life instead of reading the Kama Sutra? Then read on...

How exercise gets you in the mood

"During and after exercise blood flows to the genitals," explains author Dr Gabrielle Morrissey. "This can increase sensation once you start to become turned on."

To illustrate this, a team at the University of Texas asked women aged between 18 and 34 to watch an X-rated film, twice.

The first time the women cycled vigorously for 20 minutes beforehand, but the second time they did no exercise. Researchers calculated their sexual excitement using a device that measures blood flow in genital tissue.

They discovered that the women's vaginal responses were 169 per cent greater if they had exercised first.

The increase in blood flow is due to an improvement in blood pressure which occurs after exercise.

Working out also increases our urge for sex because it activates the same feelgood brain chemicals, known as endorphins, that are released after orgasm. "This boost in endorphins makes people more receptive to sexual activity," says Dr Craig Mahoney of the University of Wolverhampton. "When you exercise hard enough to elevate the heart rate above the normal level, you get a similar effect to the afterglow of sex."

Not just something for the ladies... Research has found that women who exercise regularly have sex more often and find it more enjoyable than their couch potato peers. But men also have good reason to get off their backsides. A study of inactive middle-aged men found that after just one hour of exercise, three times a week, they showed improved sexual function, had more orgasms and reported greater satisfaction. And men who exercised vigorously for 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week, were half as likely to have erection problems than blokes who didn't exercise at all. But don't get carried away - gym junkies who over-exercise can ruin their sex drive because they won't have any energy left for bedroom antics.

Boost your body confidence Exercise makes us feel sexier and more confident. "You're more likely to try new things, have sex more often, and feel comfortable in your own skin," says Dr Morrissey. "This lift in self- esteem means couples can try new things in the bedroom without fear of embarrassment." But don't think a few star jumps will turn you into a mean, lean, love-making machine. If you want to put the va va voom back into your sex life, here's how to do it...

The best exercises for feeling sexy OGET INTO THE SWIM:Make a splash at your local pool. WHY?Swimming increases your fitness levels, so it boosts your love- making stamina. It is aerobically intense without being high impact. Swimming works essential sex muscles - abdominals, arms, gluteus muscles, hamstrings and quadriceps - has cardiovascular benefits, improves circulation, increases muscle tone and strength. TO MAXIMISE THE BENEFITS:"Try breast-stroke," advises trainer Niki Wibrow, who devised Footballers' Wives star Zoe Lucker's Little Black Dress Workout (pounds 14.99, Universal Pictures Video). The frog kick tightens inner thighs and pelvic floor muscles,

and will ensure you have better control and stronger orgasms. …