Can Sex Be A Substitute For Exercise?


I love finding new and innovative ways to vary my exercise routine, and I often encourage others to do the same. We are creatures of habit but, ironic enough, I’ve found that slight variation keeps us interested in our routines and allows us to continue striving for goals. I promote thinking outside of the box and recommend getting off the hamster wheel to get your heart pounding and your blood really flowing. This divergence from the straight and narrow keeps the body guessing and increases the likelihood of making timely improvements in your overall fitness level. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be interesting to explore whether horizontal mambo could be considered an effective workout when it comes to your exercise regimen. You have a workout partner for motivation and accountability, you don’t need any equipment, and, best of all, it’s enjoyable!

Just before you ditch your runners and cancel your gym membership, let’s explore the hard facts. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that sex lasts six minutes on average and only burns about 21 calories. Similar stats on WebMD quote a 30 minute romp at burning between 85-100 calories. To lose one pound of fat at this rate without making changes to your diet would take 17 ½ hours a week in the sheets!

I can see the male readers pondering how they can justify cutting their work week to part time hours, but, as the voice of reality here, I feel obligated to break the unfortunate news: sex does not provide enough of a workout to completely replace your time in the gym. So it probably isn’t in your best interest to toss your gym bag to the side just yet, but is there a way that sex can actually complement your fitness regimen? A recent CNN article entitled “How Much Sex is Considered Exercise”, written by Jay Williams, explored this very question and outlined the following suggestions.

Sex before breakfast.

Why: A man’s testosterone levels peak between 7 and 8 a.m., meaning that you can anticipate a steamy session. Plus, who wouldn’t want to start their morning off with some healthy physical activity!


Why: An average yoga class can burn between 100 and 300 calories per half hour, which means that you can up the ante on your daily calorie expenditure by incorporating yoga poses into your sex routine.

Eating for endurance.

Why: Figs, oysters, celery, blueberries, peanuts, bananas, garlic and even chocolate have been shown to potentially boost sexual stamina, resulting in a longer sweat sesh for the both of you.

It is a proven fact that physically fit women lead more active sex lives, reach orgasm quicker, and are more excitable than their sedentary counterparts. Rather than training for an athletic event, try switching it up and change your focus to a “marathon sex session.” Set a date and plan a workout schedule, making sure to incorporate some practise sessions (practise makes perfect!). This could be a fun way to keep yourself and your partner motivated to improve endurance and stamina.

Think variation in the sack just like at the gym. Try inventive and fresh acts all the time and challenge yourself with different positions of varying balance to recruit different muscles. If you’re a beginner, work your way up and celebrate your progression as you move to expert status.

Make sure you are focusing on engaging your core during the act as the segregation around your pelvic floor will work your abs, but also give you better posture. Confidence is half the battle. Hit up the core exercises hard in your training program, as research suggests that a strong core can drastically increase the chances of orgasm and that after 20 minutes of vigorous exercise, women are more sexually reactive. Brief intense exercise is correlated with increased testosterone levels in males, which may endorse sexual feelings and behaviour.

So although sex is definitely not a full-time replacement for regular physical activity, it looks like it may be in your best interest to complement your current regime with some safe hanky panky, giving the infamous phrase, “the couple that trains together stays together,” a whole new meaning. Happy V-Day!

Article adapted from:

“How Much Sex is Considered Exercise.” Jay Williams. October 24, 2014.

Kristen Vidlak is a registered dietician and personal trainer. She grew up as a competetive gymnast and later attended the university of Maine on a full athletic scholarship where she was captain of their record breaking women’s track & field team. Currently, Kristen enjoys modelling and competing in fitness events throughout North America. Her experiences in athletic training and competing, coupled with her dietetic education give Kristen a unique and well-rounded perspective when it comes to health in fitness.

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