IS SEX RE­ALLY EX­ER­CISE?

You don’t need a sci­en­tist to tell you that sex can be a full-tilt, sweat-drenched work­out. But how many calo­ries does a good romp re­ally burn?

Mandate - - Exercise -

In a re­cent study, re­searchers mea­sured en­ergy ex­pended dur­ing sex ver­sus run­ning, and found that we get our hearts pump­ing and mus­cles crank­ing enough dur­ing sex for it to be con­sid­ered mod­er­ate ex­er­cise. The re­searchers re­cruited 21 healthy, ac­tive, het­ero­sex­ual cou­ples in their early 20s to jog on tread­mills at about 65 per cent of their max­i­mum heart rates for 30 min­utes. While run­ning, they wore light­weight arm­band mon­i­tors that mea­sure en­ergy ex­pen­di­ture in calo­ries and ex­er­cise in­ten­sity in METs, or meta­bolic equiv­a­lent of task.

Next, the cou­ples were asked to have sex once a week for a month while wear­ing the same arm­bands to track their calo­ries and in­ten­sity dur­ing sex­ual ac­tiv­ity. The du­ra­tion of the sex var­ied, but the av­er­age ses­sion across all cou­ples for the month was about 25 min­utes.

On av­er­age, the men burned 9.2 calo­ries per minute while jog­ging (or about 230 calo­ries for a 25-minute jog) and had a mean in­ten­sity of 8.5 METs, com­pared to 4.2 calo­ries per minute (105 calo­ries per ses­sion) and 6 METs dur­ing sex. Women burned a lit­tle less, log­ging 7.1 calo­ries per minute and 8.1 METs on the tread­mill, and 3.1 calo­ries per minute and 5.6 METs dur­ing sex.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, jog­ging for a half-hour taxed ev­ery­one’s bod­ies more than hav­ing sex but the re­searchers were im­pressed at how much en­ergy th­ese peo­ple ex­erted dur­ing sex. Ac­cord­ing to a study by au­thor Antony Karelis, the par­tic­i­pants burned enough calo­ries and reached high enough in­ten­si­ties for sex to be con­sid­ered ‘mod­er­ate in­ten­sity’ ex­er­cise, the equiv­a­lent of walk­ing briskly. While it’s not on the level of do­ing wind sprints or 30lap pool ses­sions, sex can be a le­git form of ex­er­cise, says Karelis.

Sex is good for you, but it isn’t al­ways ex­er­cise: Karelis points out that some­times sex isn’t hot and heavy and doesn’t al­ways last long, so you can’t count ev­ery quickie as a mod­er­ate work­out. “Sex should not re­place regular ex­er­cise,” Karelis says. “Rather, sex and ex­er­cise should both be in­cor­po­rated into your rou­tine on a regular ba­sis. Stud­ies show that each im­proves health, so the com­bi­na­tion of the two leads to a greater qual­ity of life.”

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