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How Many Calories Do You Burn During Sex?

Let’s be real — for most of us, calorie burning isn’t top of mind when we’re about to get busy in the bedroom. But in this world of multitasking, it’s nice to know that while you’re connecting with your partner or playmate, you’re also moving your body and using up calories.

Although it might seem like a stretch to think of sex as a form of exercise, the two have more in common than you might think. For starters, both sex and exercise connect us to our bodies, says Jason Karp, PhD, a visiting professor of exercise science at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro and the author of Sexercise: Exercising Your Way to Better Sex.

“Research has shown that both exercise and sex are good for our health — and the more of each we get, the better,” says Dr. Karp.

And just as the intensity of exercise determines the number of calories used, the same goes for sex — as in, if your heart rate goes up when you’re fooling around, that’s a good start!

Now that we’ve gotten your attention, here’s what experts have to say about the calories you burn while engaging in sexual activities.

What Happens When You Get Physical in the BedroomThe energy expenditure (otherwise known as calories burned) of sex can be estimated by calculating the activity's intensity, the body weight of the person, and the time spent.

While there isn't much research on the calorie-burning benefits of sex, there are small studies that focus on younger adults. In those studies, sex is considered a form of physical activity that scientists say is equivalent to climbing two flights of stairs or walking briskly.

In studies on healthy men and women, it’s estimated that sex expends an average of 101 calories (4.2 calories per minute) in men and 69 calories (3.1 calories per minute) in women.

By comparison, a 160-pound person burns about 124 calories jogging for 10 minutes, burning an average of 12.4 calories per minute, according to the American Council on Exercise.

“Whoever is taking the more active role is burning more calories — women will burn more calories during sex if they are on top. In general, men tend to burn more calories during sex than women,” says Leah Millheiser, MD, a clinical professor and female sexual medicine expert at Stanford Health in California.

It isn’t just sex that gives males the calorie burning advantage. Because (in general) men have more muscle and less body fat than women, they use more calories at rest and while exercising, according to Mayo Clinic.

Number of Calories Burned During Sex Falls Short of Regular Exercise“Despite increases in breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure that occur during sex, it seems that sex, as a form of exercise, falls short of the cardiovascular and calorie-burning benefits of other types of exercise, like running, cycling, and lifting weights,” says Karp.

Heart rate and oxygen consumption during sexual intercourse are similar to values achieved during normal daily life activities, with sex being about as physically strenuous as walking two to four miles per hour, he adds..

Given that research suggests the average session of sexual activity lasts between 3 and 13 minutes, many of the estimates around sex and calorie burning are factoring in lots of foreplay or nonpenetrative sex. The more time you spend on oral sex, petting, hugging, and kissing, the more calories you’ll burn, says Dr. Millheiser.

Certain Sex Positions Require Strength and EnduranceMany sex positions require muscular strength and muscular endurance, which burn calories, says Karp. “These include the Standing 69, the Aerial Dancer, Arm Hang, the Squatting Cowgirl, among others,” he says. Anyone attempting the Standing 69 needs to be strong and somewhat flexible — the move requires one person to lift the other off the ground so that each participant can give and receive oral sex.

There isn’t specific research into how many calories the different positions burn, but it’s safe to say it’s in the same 3 to 4 calories per minute range, says Karp.

Getting Creative With Your ‘Pregame’ Burns Calories, TooIt takes energy to get into the mood with your partner. A 160-pound female in her thirties burns an estimated 145 calories giving a 30-minute massage. Take turns massaging each other; that way, you can both take advantage of the calorie burn (and its arousing effects).

Dancing — whether you head out to the club or make some suggestive moves in the privacy of your own bedroom — can be a fun and sexy way to connect. Bonus: A recent meta-analysis published in PLoS One revealed that dancing also promotes fat loss. A 140-pound woman burns about 100 calories during 30 minutes of dancing.

Sex and Exercise Connect Us to Our BodiesMoving more — through both sex and exercise — can have benefits for our health that go beyond fat burning, says Karp. Studies show that body image, which is enhanced with exercise, plays a vital role in sexual desire and satisfaction. But the benefits of exercise and sex transcend our sexual satisfaction and physical health — they connect us to who we are, notes Karp.

“The human experience is physical, and sex and exercise are perhaps the best expressions of our physical being,” he says. Not only can the activities connect us with other people (and sometimes, even to love) they can both help us live life more fully, adds Karp.

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