French President Nicolas Sarkozy might have stumbled onto one of the least well-kept secrets in the fitness world: What you do in the gym has a direct effect on your performance in the bedroom.
Personal trainer Julie Imperiali has led Sarkozy through an exercise regimen in the past 10 months that has helped him shave nearly nine pounds from his frame and drop two pants sizes, according to a Jan. 21 article in the U.K. paper The Telegraph.
But Imperiali reportedly told The Telegraph that the French head of state has also reaped fringe benefits in the form of improved sex, thanks to her Tectonic method of exercise that targets muscles in the pelvic floor.
When contacted by ABCNews.com, Imperiali declined to comment further.
"The subject is currently over-exploited (and wrongly exploited) and we do not wish to give any other interviews in the next few months," Imperiali wrote in an e-mail, which was translated from French.
But if the Telegraph's accounts of Sarkozy's workout regimen are true, exercise experts said it is little surprise that he is enjoying fringe benefits from his workout in the form of improved sex.
Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for The American Council on Exercise, said that Sarkozy's trainer is likely recommending "the same pelvic floor exercises that many pregnant women are familiar with that their obstetricians will have them do.
"Most people have probably heard of Kegel exercises. ... These could certainly help with sexual function," he said. "It is not shocking that he would do this as an adjunct to a normal exercise routine to provide this adjunct benefit."
Pelvic floor activation has other benefits as well, ABCNews.com fitness contributor Stefan Aschan added. "Building your pelvic floor activation to create a stable environment, you create a strong platform to execute movement correctly without injuring yourself," he said.
It might not be just pelvic floor exercises that can lead to better sex. Bryant said that a number of studies have explored the links between exercise in general and enhancing sexual performance.
Other Fringe Bedroom Benefits of Exercise
One example of such research is a study published in the August 2003 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, which found that exercise improved erections and reduced the risk of impotence in men older than 50.
This finding was supported in another small study published in the June 23, 2004, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found that exercise and a reduced-calorie diet could help correct erectile dysfunction in obese men.
And other research points to the benefits that the improved circulation that comes with regular exercise can bestow on sexual performance.
"[Sarkozy] reportedly lost four kilograms [nearly nine pounds] of body weight, which would help to enhance blood flow," science officer Bryant said. "This is very important for preventing erectile dysfunction, elevating mood, and helping him to manage the stress in his life."
Plus, fitness contributor Aschan added, the extra strength and flexibility that comes with exercise can't be a bad thing when it comes to sexual performance.
"Being in touch with your body's strength and flexibility -- to move and to hold position -- which you learn and improve during exercise, goes hand-in-hand from the bench in the gym to the bed in the bedroom," he said. "The longer you can exercise, the more endurance you will have, which you can draw upon when needed. Sex is about movement, and movement is conditioned during exercise."
Is Better Sex the Best Incentive?
Still, Bryant said that while the general public would do well to look to exercise to improve their sex lives, he doubts that many will rush to don their running shoes.
"I think it might appeal to some individuals but contrary to what one might believe, I think people have a natural inclination when they start to experience some sort of sexual decline in sexual function to look to a pill," he said. "They are not willing to make an investment into a physically active lifestyle."
But for those who are looking to kick their sex lives into a higher gear with exercise, Aschan noted that there are certain exercises that can help. Deep leg squats to build stamina in the legs, as well as core-hardening maneuvers such as holding a push-up position and a plank position can train the muscles that come into play during sex.
He said exercises that strengthen arm muscles and build pelvic floor muscles are also beneficial.
Christophe Schpoliansky contributed to this report.