ASK A TRAINER: 'Is Sex a Good Workout to Lose Weight? How Many Calories Does Sex Burn?'
"How many calories do you burn during sex? Is it a good workout to lose weight and get fit?"- Reba L., San Francisco, CA
I know you want me to the bearer of good news here, Reba, and, believe me, I want to tell you what you want to hear. The good news is that an immense deal of scientific research has shown that sex most certainly has its health benefits, studies have linked a sexually active lifestyle to, among other things, lowered blood pressure, improved bladder control in women, decreased risk of heart attack and prostate cancer in men, and is a proven treatment for sleep issues.
But is it an effective weight loss tool?
One could argue, and I most certainly will, that elevated levels of the "stress" hormone, cortisol can cause the body to hold onto fat, especially belly fat. (I wrote about that here.) So if sex reduces stress it follows that having sex on a regular basis would lower cortisol levels and, as such, it might be a way to combat abdominal fat. Now my theory here is based on conjecture but I figure, it's probably better to play it safe than sorry on this point.
But cortisol levels are only one factor in body fat composition. When it comes to burning body fat, the old tried and true; calories out needs to exceed calories in, so in considering sex as an effective workout one needs to take a look at just how many calories are burned while doing it.
Studies show that during a vigorous half hour session, one can burn between 85 and 100 calories. That is certainly more calories than one would burn during a thirty minute walk but not nearly as many calories as a moderate 30-minute strength training workout and far less than you would a 10 minute kettle bell workout. Consider is that the 85-100 calories per half hour I referenced earlier are the numbers cited for your more active bouts of intimacy and that that most of these bouts do not last thirty minutes.
If you want to maximize your out-of-the-gym metabolic state, it is in your best interests to be able to use your recreational time in more athletic fashion and a strong core, lean body and aerobic health will all aid you in your quest to do so. Being physically fit is the best way to combat sexual dysfunction, diminished libido and, obviously, endurance.
Plus, on a totally shallow level, it will make you more physically appealing to your partner. I don't think anyone has ever said, "My boyfriend/ girlfriend/ wife/ husband is just TOO hot. It's so unattractive."
A healthy sex life isn't a valid excuse to stop exercising. In fact, the pursuit of a healthy sex life is a reason to workout.
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