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How many calories does sex burn? Research and Benefits

  • One study found that people burn around three to four calories per minute during sex.
  • Burn more calories during sex by putting yourself on top and making sex last longer.
  • Exercising before sex can increase arousal and burn extra calories.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference Library for more tips.

Sex can sometimes feel like a workout, but how many calories are you actually burning under the sheets?

Previous research has concluded that sex equates to light to moderate exercise. Several other studies since then have been able to determine the average amount of calories burned during sex – and that’s significantly less than going for a run or hitting the gym.

The good news is that sex offers many health benefits beyond burning calories. That said, here’s some information from the latest research on how many calories you burn during sex.

How many calories does sex actually burn?

Research has shown that men burn an average of 101 calories during sex, or about 4.2 calories burned per minute. Women burn an average of 69 calories during sex, or about 3.2 per minute.

These results come from a small 2013 study that compared the calorie burn of young, healthy, heterosexual couples spending 25 minutes having sex versus running on a treadmill for 30 minutes.

Researchers found that during a session of average sexual activity — defined as foreplay, intercourse, and the orgasm of at least one partner — men burned 101 calories and women 69.1 calories.

Sex burned far fewer calories than when the same participants worked out on a treadmill – where men burned 9.2 calories per minute and women burned 7.1 calories per minute – more than twice as much as sex.

“There is a kind of energy expenditure [during sex] but it’s not that big,” says Antony Karelis, PhD, co-author of the study and professor in the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Quebec in Montreal.

Another 2013 study found similar results: A man in his 30s might only burn 21 calories during sex if he had sex for six minutes.

Five to six minutes is about the average length of sex, not including foreplay. And, of course, calorie expenditure is individualized, meaning you may burn slightly more or fewer calories than those study participants.

How to burn more calories during sex

Let’s start by eliminating the obvious: whoever is on top probably does most of the movement and will likely expend more energy, which means they’ll burn more calories.

So if you’re looking to burn a few more calories during sex, take matters into your own hands and be on top of it, or have you and your partner take turns so you can both enjoy it. Sweating is a good indication that you’re working out, says Karelis.

You can also make the sex session last longer in hopes of burning more calories, but that’s easier said than done.

As for the different positions, “it would be incredibly difficult for people to change gender in such a substantial way that it would amount to a workout,” says Debby Herbenick, PhD, professor of sexual and reproductive health at the Indiana University School of Public Health and author of “The Coregasm Workout: The Revolutionary Method for Better Sex Through Exercise.”

Herbenick adds that “there are endless sex positions, and I recommend people choose ones that are pleasurable for themselves and their partner, not ones that burn five or 10 more calories.”

However, if you’re looking to expand your library of sex positions to include ones that require more strength or cardio, you can try standing positions or ones that require flexibility, like wheelbarrow.

Do not forget the other benefits of sex

Sex has many health benefits beyond burning calories.

If you’re disappointed that sex doesn’t burn as many calories as you’d hoped, consider that a healthy sex life can bring many more physical and mental health benefits.

Sex can help:

Insider’s Takeaways

Overall, research has shown that sex can be equivalent to light to moderate exercise.

One study showed that men burned about 101 calories during sex, or 4.2 calories per minute. The women burned about 69 calories during sex, or 3.1 calories per minute.

To burn more calories during sex, get the upper hand and try to last longer. It’s also a good idea to exercise before sex, as you’ll increase arousal and burn a lot more calories overall.

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