That’s true? How many calories can be burned during sex? Does it have other health benefits? Here we review research to answer these questions and more.
What are calories?
To begin with, we must be clear about what calories are. Our body needs energy to perform all kinds of actions, from the most insignificant movements to great efforts.
To do this, it uses food calories, units used to measure the energy provided by a food or drink from the carbohydrates, fats, proteins or alcohol they contain. The contribution is estimated to be as follows:
- Each gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories.
- Each gram of protein contains 4 calories.
- Each gram of fat contains 9 calories.
- Another option is the alcohol in drinks, which contains 7 calories per gram.
Regardless of their origin, the calories consumed are transformed into energy when they are used or into fat when they are stored.
To use the calories stored as fat, you must reduce caloric intake, so that the body draws on energy reserves, or increase physical activity, to burn more calories than consumed.
- How to know how many calories we consume and how many we burn
Depending on the exercise and the intensity with which it is performed, it will be the amount of calories that are burned. The following is a list of the most effective activities:
- power-yoga: approximately 226 – 335 calories per hour.
- strings: approximately 285 – 421 calories per hour.
- elliptical: approximately 322 – 478 calories per hour.
- metabolic resistance training: approximately 340 – 505 calories per hour.
- strength training: approximately 341 – 504 calories per hour.
- Rowing: approximately 481 – 713 calories per hour.
- Stationary bike: approximately 498 – 738 calories per hour.
- kettlebell circuit: approximately 554 – 822 calories per hour.
- To run: approximately 566 – 839 calories per hour.
- cycling intervals: approximately 568 – 841 calories per hour.
- Kick boxing: approximately 582 – 864 calories per hour.
- Jump the rope: approximately 677 – 990 calories per hour.
These values are calculated from the oxygen the body needs after exercise to recover and repair muscles.
Does sex burn more calories?
For a long time it was believed that sex was an even more effective option than exercise to burn calories. While it’s helpful when supplemented with regular physical activity and a healthy diet, experts disagree with that claim.
According to the researchers, although sex demands an effort from the body, the caloric expenditure it causes is not as high as is actually thought. This was confirmed in a study published in PLOS Onein which a group of experts analyzed 21 heterosexual couples between 18 and 35 years old.
To compare caloric expenditure, the researchers attached control bracelets to the participants and had them complete a session of resistance exercise on a treadmill at a moderate intensity for half an hour.
They then compared the results with sex-induced expenditure and found that the men burned an average of 101 calories during a 24-minute sexual act (4.2 per minute), while during exercise they burned 276 calories (9.2 per minute). The women, on the other hand, burned 69 calories (3.1 per minute) during sex, and 213 during the exercise session (7.1 per minute).
Another study published in The New England Journal of Medicine noted that a man weighing 154 pounds (70 kg) can expend about 3.5 calories per minute (210 calories per hour) during sexual activity, which is equivalent to walking at a moderate pace (about 2.5 miles or 4 km per hour).
However, the authors cautioned that the average period of sexual activity they recorded lasted just six minutes, so the men could burn 21 calories per act of intercourse.
What does this mean? According to experts, sex is far from being an activity that equals or exceeds sport when it comes to burning calories, however, its energy expenditure is considerable and it can work very well as a complement to a healthy diet and regular physical activity.
In addition, there are certain factors that can increase these numbers, such as having more extensive sexual relations, changing positions, or even reaching orgasm.
A work published in The American Journal of Cardiologyfound that the preorgasmic stage of sex may require more energy than is spent walking.
Other benefits of sex
Although the contribution of sex to burning calories is significant, there is evidence that shows that practicing it frequently can also have other health benefits:
- Relieve pain.
- Increase libido or sexual desire.
- Reduce stress and anxiety.
- Strengthen the muscles, especially the pelvic floor in women.
- Improve the functioning of the immune system.
- Improve sleep quality.
- Reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, especially prostate cancer.
Sources consulted: US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, American College of Sports Medicine, National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.