It's a line of thought that dates back to ancient Greece and Rome and has been handed down to the athletes of today: For peak performance, abstain from sex before the big event. Or maybe not. Italian researchers have done some digging, and they report in the journal Frontiers in Physiology that the advice is "not sufficiently supported by the recent scientific literature." "We clearly show that this topic has not been well investigated and only anecdotal stories have been reported," lead researcher Laura Stefani says in a ScienceDaily news release. The researchers note in their meta-analysis of nine studies that the scant scientific research doesn't consider potential gender differences, type of sport, or masturbation.
Gizmodo reports those nine studies were the most reliable of the hundreds the researchers initially reviewed. Based on the limited existing data, the evidence suggests that at least in the case of marathon runners, sexual activity could actually boost sports performance. "Unless it takes place less than two hours before, the evidence actually suggests sexual activity may have a beneficial effect on sports performance," Stefani says. So at the end of the day, reports HealthDay, the researchers are telling athletes who feel guilty having sex the day before the big event that, well, they really shouldn't. (Mexico once banned eight soccer players for bringing women to the team hotel.)