We’ve heard about the health benefits of sex. How it can help you mentally and physically, it can also help keep you feeling younger. We’ve heard the same things about exercise. Would these two great tastes taste great together? Can sex be considered exercise? For those of you who have had an all out sweaty session of hot sex, you’re probably nodding your head right now. Sex can take lots of energy if you’re using different positions and giving it all you’ve got. Regular exercise has been known to improve your sex life too. But as for actually scientifically proven exercise, there are certain factors to consider before you sexy time can be thought of as exercise.
How Many Calories Does Sex Burn
A recent study published in the journal PLOS ONE took 21 couples in their early 20’s and measured their energy expenditure with armbands while they did moderate exercise on a treadmill. After they had done 30 minutes on the treadmill, they were then asked to wear the armbands while having sex once a week over the course of a month. The couples averaged about 25 minutes each sexy time session. The findings were very interesting. After moderate jogging on the treadmill men burned 276 calories (about 9 calories a minute) and women burned 213 calories (about 7 calories a minute). They also measure 8.5 METS for men and 8.4 METS for women. METS are metabolic equivalent of task; this translates as the energy cost of physical activities. If you consider the rate of METs being 1 for sitting quietly (I’m using 1.5 sitting while using the computer) and jogging 6mph or bicycling around 15mph is a 10, this 8/5 average METS for jogging lightly falls into place. During sex, however, men burned 100 calories (about 4 calories a minute) and women about 72 calories about 3 calories a minute). That’s only 6 METS for men and 5.5 METs for women. Researchers were surprised to find the numbers high during sex but the couples in the study found the jogging required much more exertion than sex and seemed like much harder work. Does this qualify sex as equivalent in exercise to light jogging? Not so much.
Not What It Seems
Most couples don’t have as energetic sex as the couples did in this study. Also, keep in mind that they are young twenty-somethings in good health and fitness. When it comes to sexual styles, there’s languid sensual sex, there’s quick sex, there’s a mixture of slow intensity and fast hot sex, and there may even be rough-feels-like-a-lung-searing-full-out-run sex. Unlike exercise, sex is not consistent enough in intensity and duration to replace a jog, a bike ride or a Zumba class, but it does burn some calories. You can think of it more like parking a little farther away from the store or taking the stairs instead of the elevator kind of exercise. It will add a little bit of extra caloric burn to help in a small way with your overall fitness regiment. It just won’t burn off that cheeseburger you had at dinner earlier.
Adding a Workout to Sexy Time
Will sex get you pumped up? Not really. We run into that whole duration/intensity issue again. There are ways you can add a little core building or a little extra calorie burn if you want to add it as part of your complete exercise routine. You’re not going to create enough muscle resistance to replace your Bow Flex or your bench press. Like the additional caloric burn when it comes to mild cardio, you can fit in some mild strength training into sex. Positions like one partner standing up while holding the other up works for both partners. The standing partner gets a little extra work out in their biceps and hamstrings like curls and squats. They’ll probably get a little core workout too. The partner being held up will need to use their arms, legs and core to keep things going. Again, not going to make your biceps look ripped but you can get a little bit of a muscle burn out of it. Doggie style works the quadriceps and the glutes. It can even be an arm workout for the person using their hands to stay upright. Put your hands up against a wall and you get a slightly more intense workout. Cowgirl position works the abdominals, especially if the partner lying down brings their head and shoulder up to contract their abs. They can also lie back and contract their gluts and hamstrings. The partner on top works quads, glutes and core depending on how much movement they’re using. If you’re inclined to challenge yourself you can try a bridge position where your hips are up with their shoulders still on the ground like a yoga bridge post. Or you can up the ante by having all four limbs holding you up while your legs are around your partner. Always keep in mind your current fitness level and how much you really want to distract yourself during sex to use these positions.
Other Health Benefits Beside Fitness
I’ve researched the many health benefits of sex and what is astonishing is that mostly everything sex adds to your health, fitness adds as well. Both help to alleviate depression and work towards better self-esteem. You sleep better, can reduce the chances of heart disease, and improve immunity. Exercise and sex both help to reduce stress and contributes to lowering blood pressure. And just like moderate exercise, sex may help you look and feel younger. I did find some surprising information about how libido is tied to body fat levels and competition dieting, like bodybuilding or intense high level exercising like a triathlon. Extremely low levels of body fat can reduce your libido, as will going on a calorie restriction diet, say before a competition. Your libido will return once you go off calorie restriction and eat a normal diet.
Sex +Fitness = Good Health
Sex and exercise seem to go hand in hand. Both improve your overall mental and physical well being while providing some fun bonding time with your partner. The release of hormones during satisfying sex brings out that feel good hormone, like a runner's high. Even if you don’t use sex as a supplement to exercise you’re still getting good things out of it, like adding yoga to your fitness routine. So feel free to combine sex and exercise for a more complete and healthier you.
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Follow on Twitter @Technogeisha