Exercising and sex: Can sex replace gym? Find out!

Couple in bed

Sexercise. Is it really a thing? Does some loving between the sheets burn enough calories to count as a workout?

The rumor: A bout of sexual activity can burn between 100 and 300 calories.

Let’s talk about calories. How many do you actually burn during sex? CNN points out that “about of sexual activity can burn between 100 and 300 calories.” WebMD states that 30 minutes of friskiness can burn anywhere between 85 to 100 calories. Clearly, there’s an ongoing debate about how many calories sex actually burns. So, what’s fiction and what’s fact?

Does sex burn enough calories or raise the heart rate enough to count as exercise?

Having sex certainly, counts as physical activity and sometimes even reaches the level of "moderate" exercise. But whether it's consistent and vigorous enough to count as a workout is another matter. Even the most hopping sex life cannot replace other kinds of exercise in your life.

For one reason, sex doesn't typically last as long as it takes you to walk 10,000 steps, take a spin class, or even run a mile. One study pegged the average sex act at about six minutes. For another reason, fewer than half of married people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s report having sex more than two or three times a week. Yet the CDC recommends adults get two hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise—the level of brisk walking—along with muscle strengthening activity.

Sex doesn’t burn as much energy as a non-horizontal workout for most people, either. The oft-cited statistic that "sex burns 100 to 200 calories per session" is more overstatement than science. One study found that most men burn about four calories per minute having sex, compared to more than twice that while jogging. Sex occasionally reaches the level of “moderate” exertion, comparable to playing doubles tennis or walking uphill, but whether it counts as actual exercise depends on how long you maintain that pace. The same study monitored people’s hearts on a treadmill in a lab and during a sexual activity at home to compare exertion. The treadmill won.

Sexercise will not replace the need for a gym membership or your running shoes, but it does offer one advantage: Of the subjects in that treadmill study, 98 percent reported that compared to jogging in place, having sex was a lot more fun.
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