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How Many Calories Do You Burn During Sex?

We hate to disappoint you, but having sex doesn't actually burn that many calories. There are, however, a few exceptions.

romantic young couple kissing in bed
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  • You've probably wondered how many calories you burn during sex, and some people claim it can burn 100 to 300 calories per session
  • But other research indicates that the answer largely depends on various factors, such as your weight and how vigorous your lovemaking session is

    You’re in bed with your partner and you just finished a vigorous sex session. You’re hot and sweaty, worked past that side cramp you got while thrusting, and are convinced you just burned as many calories as you would at the gym. You figure you can skip the treadmill today since your sex workout—a.k.a sex exercises, a.k.a sexercises—got you plenty of cardio.

    Eh… not to be the bearer of bad news, but you probably didn’t burn as many calories during sex as you think. Of course, it depends on the type of sex you’re having—specifically, how active you are during it, and how long you’re having it—but unless you’re really going at it for a couple of hours, odds are, it wasn’t that great of a workout.

    But wanna find out just how much fat you're burning during sex? Here's what scientists have discovered over the years.

    In 2013, scientists at the University of Montreal attempted to answer this question by asking 21 heterosexual couples to wear SenseWear fitness trackers during their lovemaking. The couples also ran on a treadmill for 30 minutes to compare their sexercise to actual exercise.

    The results, which were published in the journal PLOS ONE, concluded that men burn 100 calories during the average sex session, while women burn about 69 calories. (Nice.) The researchers estimated that men burn roughly 4.2 calories per minute during sex, while women burn 3.1 calories.

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    Men may be more physically active during sex which potentially explains why they burn more calories, study author Antony Karelis. But the main reason, Karelis told Time, is that “Men weigh more than women, and because of this, the energy expenditure will be higher in men for the same exercise performed.”

    In total, the number of calories burned during sex was far less than the number of calories men burned during exercise, which was about 276 calories. But while hitting the gym might provide a more intense workout, the researchers concluded that, “sexual activity may potentially be considered, at times, as a significant exercise.”

    Plus, the results of the study were based on the average amount of time the couples had sex, which was about 25 minutes — so we can reasonably assume that the longer the session, the more calories can be burned. (Want to find out for yourself? Multiply the number of minutes you have sex by the researchers' 4.2 calories figure to get the approximate total number of calories you've burned.)

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    But before you get too excited about that potential calorie burn, another study published in 2013 concluded the opposite: that sex really isn't much of a workout at all.

    Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the paper aimed to debunk certain weight loss-related myths, such as that sex can burn anywhere between 100 to 300 calories. This time, scientists used 1984 research published in JAMA Internal Medicine, which found that the average bout of sex lasted only six minutes. (This number seems to be far more in line with other research, which suggests that vaginal intercourse usually lasts between three and seven minutes long.) With this figure, they determined that a 154-lb., 30-something man only burns 21 calories during the typical sexual encounter.

    In summation, if you’re trying to lose weight and you're hoping to replace gym time with sex, you may want to stick with your traditional workout routine. But that doesn’t mean intercourse doesn’t have real health benefits.

    In addition to improving your mood, sex can also boost your immunity. People who have sex at least once a week have been shown to benefit from higher levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody that protects you from illness, compared to those who didn’t get so lucky.

    A healthy sex life can also reduce cancer risk in men. A large study in the British Medical Journal found that men who ejaculated at least 21 times per month were less likely to get prostate cancer than guys who only ejaculated four to seven times per month.

    So yes, unfortunately, a tumble in the sheets doesn’t torch as many calories as you'd likely hoped. But hey, that shouldn't stop you from having more sex.

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