Here's How Many Calories You Actually Burn During Sex
An introduction to your new favorite workout.
It's easy to get winded after a passionate tumble between the sheets. In fact, you might even break a sweat or feel your heart race. But is the action you get while getting some action really enough to count as a full-on workout? And if it is, how many calories do you actually burn during sex?
If given the chance, most of us would gladly forgo a laborious jog on the treadmill for a sexy romp in the sack—but it's not that simple. Several factors come into play when determining how intense of a workout you get from your horizontal sweat sesh. To help you figure it out, we set out to investigate the topic. Here's how many calories you burn during sex, plus ways to increase that number.
How many calories does sex burn?
A 2013 study published in PLOS ONE found that the average woman burns about 69 calories for every 25-minutes having sex, while the average man burns around 100. The study broke things down further, noting that men burned an average 4.2 calories per minute and women burned 3.1.
The researchers defined their measurement of sexual activity as "the onset of foreplay, intercourse, and at least one orgasm by either the man or the woman." And while the study certainly has its limitations—it only looked at heterosexual couples in their 20s who identified as healthy and non-obese—it gives a decent baseline for the energy expenditure of aerobic, penetrative sex.
To put their findings into perspective, the study also had its participants complete a 30-minute run on a treadmill at a moderate intensity. Somewhat unsurprisingly, these folks reported that having sex was more enjoyable and more appreciated than the 30-minute jog.
That's understandable, but it didn't mean the two tasks were equal in their caloric payoff. During their run, the women burned an average of 213 calories, or more than twice as many calories per minute than they did during sex.
Still, the longer and more intense the intercourse, the more potential for calories to be burned by both men and women.
"The level of intensity that is exerted from sexual activity could be higher than that of walking at [3 miles per hour] but less than that of jogging at [5 miles per hour]," the researchers wrote. "Taken together, these results suggest that sexual activity may potentially be considered, at times, as a significant exercise." We're glad to hear it.
Which sex positions burn the most calories?
At this point, you're probably wondering, "Okay, how can I maximize the calories I burn during sex?" Aside from important factors like your weight, gender, and the length of your session, some positions are more engaging than others, allowing you to get a better workout.
Jaiya Kinzbach, a Los Angeles-based sexologist and author of Red Hot Touch, recommends that female-identifying people try a position where they squat on top and bounce up and down. "This is a great workout for your thighs and butt, and it can burn up to 207 calories in 30 minutes," she told Woman's Day.
There are simpler positions that burn calories, too. Charlene Ciardiello, CEO of the holistic fitness program Shut Up and Move, told The Cut that a woman in doggy style will burn 98 calories in 30 minutes while a man will burn 151, making it a pretty good workout for both participants. Also, being the person on top in any position has been proven to burn more calories than being the person on the bottom.
In general, certain positions will be more strenuous than others (like standing, for example). But while these may engage more muscles and get you breathing faster, they aren't guaranteed to burn that many more calories.
Does sex count as a workout?
Sex probably isn't going to replace your regular gym time, but it's definitely got a few health and fitness benefits, including the ability to lower blood pressure, lower heart attack risk, improve sleep, and ease stress, according to WebMD.
Not to mention, it's the best way to reconnect with yourself, your body, and your partner. "For many couples, some sexual connection provides a kind of glue to renew their emotional bonds and the physical space to play creatively and explore new erotic arenas," says Sari Cooper, director of The Center for Love and Sex in New York City.
Ultimately, the longer and more steamy the sex, the more calories you're likely to burn. And since the Mayo Clinic advises adults to aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day, we'd day sex counts as a decent enough workout. However, if weight loss is your main concern, amping up how often you have sex isn't going to change that much. To see results, you're probably going to have to burn cals the old fashioned way: by hitting the gym.
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