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11th February, 20214 min read

How many calories does sex burn?

Medical reviewer: Dr Ann Nainan
Author: Caroline Bodian
Last reviewed: 09/02/2021
Medically reviewed

All of Healthily's articles undergo medical safety checks to verify that the information is medically safe. View more details in our safety page, or read our editorial policy.

Any kind of exercise is generally good for you. In fact, we should all aim to do some kind of physical activity every day – and sex is definitely a physical activity.

But exactly how much of a workout is sex? How many calories does it burn, and are there any other benefits? Read on to find out.

How many calories do you burn having sex?

How many calories you burn during sex will vary, but some scientific studies have tried to answer this question. For example, a study from the University of Quebec at Montreal in Canada compared energy usage during sex with moderate-intensity exercise on a running machine (treadmill).

During a 24-minute sex session, they found that men burned 101 calories – or 4.2 calories per minute – while women burned 69 calories or 3.1 calories per minute. And during a 30-minute treadmill session, the men burned 276 calories and the women burned 213 calories.

This study shows that having sex does indeed burn calories – but not as many as moderate-intensity exercise does.

It’s recommended that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. So your average sex session probably won’t count much toward this, despite burning some calories.

It’s also important to note that the calories you use during physical activity will vary depending on certain factors, including your size and age. You may want to try using an online calorie counter to work out how many calories you use and gain in a day.

How can you burn more calories during sex?

The more energetic (vigorous) the physical activity, the more calories you’ll burn. And this applies to sex, too.

So how can you burn more calories during sex? The most obvious answer is to try having sex for a longer period of time. The longer you go, the more energy you’ll use. And of course, if it’s hot, you’ll sweat more, burning more calories.

You can also try different sex positions to increase the number of calories you burn. For example, in the missionary position, the person on the bottom will burn fewer calories than the person on top. But if both partners are standing, they both use more calories.

Does sex have other benefits for physical health?

Like other types of exercise, sex can have benefits for your physical health.

Having sex exercises your heart by increasing your heart rate, which reaches a peak during orgasm. Some studies show that the average peak heart rate during orgasm is about the same as your heart rate while walking upstairs – so while it isn’t going to be enough to keep you fit on its own, it does give your heart a gentle workout.

Sex may also help you fight stress. In a small study, people who had penetrative sex or masturbated showed lower stress levels than those who had no sex at all when performing stressful activities. And certainly lots of people find that sex – either masturbation or with a partner – can help them to feel more relaxed.

Another study suggests that there’s a link between how often you have sex and the strength of your immune system – the system that stops you from getting ill. People who had sex once or twice a week had higher levels of an important illness-fighting substance in their bodies, compared with those who had no sex at all. More research is needed to confirm this, however.

Key points

  • everyone should try to be active every day and aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week
  • sex counts as physical activity, but won’t generally burn as many calories as other forms of moderate-intensity exercise
  • the number of calories you burn during physical activity depends on certain factors, including your size and age
  • more energetic sex in different positions will burn more calories
  • sex may offer other benefits, including stress reduction
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