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How much sex is considered exercise?

  • Acclaimed psychologist and nutritionist debunks this myth!
  • Can sexercise replace your gym routine?
  • Probably not -- but see what health benefits it does have
How much sex is considered exercise?

Editor's note: Be sure to watch HLN for every Sunday starting December 1 to see new shows “Cook Your Ass Off” at 7 p.m. ET, hosted by celebrated chef Richard Blais, followed by “The Tim Ferriss Experiment” at 8 p.m. ET and concluding with “THE DOSE with Dr. Billy” at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Jay Williams, Ph.D., is a psychologist and medical nutritionist. She is also a clinical professor, author and wellness consultant. She is on Twitter.

When I think of the ultimate sex workout, I picture the scene from “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” wherein Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie throw each other around their kitchen for an hour. Unfortunately, not every sexual experience is quite that... well, high-intensity. But how many calories do we really burn in the act?

The rumor: A bout of sexual activity can burn between 100 and 300 calories

We hear all the time that sex is a great workout, but what are the hard facts? How much sex is considered exercise? On a scale from fast asleep to Brangelina, where does the average sexual encounter lie on the calorie-burning scale?

The verdict: Sex burns a few calories, but frequent friskiness isn't going to replace the gym

You may not be getting quite as good of a workout between the sheets as you think. According to a study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine, sex lasts six minutes on average and only burns about 21 calories.

upwave: 6 ways getting horizontal makes you healthy

As an exercise physiologist and someone who even finds ways to burn calories while driving and working on my computer, I found this to be a very disappointing statistic. According to WebMD, 30 minutes of sex can burn in the neighborhood of 85 to 100 calories; if you feel like you have a pretty vigorous sex life, you’re probably on the higher end of that statistic.

This got me thinking. While it appears that we probably shouldn’t be giving up our gym memberships in the name of sex anytime soon, there are ways we can optimize our sexercise. Here are some ideas: 

Sex before breakfast

Having sex in the morning is a great idea for several reasons. A man’s testosterone levels are the highest between 7:00 and 8:00 in the morning, for one. Also, if you make time for a half-hour morning session, you can roll out of bed and right into your morning workout and you’re already warmed up! Now that’s something worth setting your alarm for.

upwave: No more BUTS! Have more sex this week

In the average yoga class, you can burn anywhere between 100 and 300 calories per half hour. Incorporating some of your favorite yoga poses into your sex life can definitely up the caloric ante and stretch your hip flexors at the same time. (I’ll let you take creative liberty with this one.)

Eating for endurance
Incorporating some endurance-boosting foods can also help when trying to kick it up a notch in the sex department. Foods such as figs, oysters, celery, blueberries, peanuts, bananas, garlic and even chocolate have the potential to boost a man’s sexual stamina. (Note: Carb-loading the night before your morning sexathon is not recommended and will likely be counterproductive.)

upwave: Can skipping sex improve my sport performance?

Switch it up
With sexercise -- as with any workout -- it’s important to try new and different things all the time. By trying more challenging and adventurous positions, you use different muscles for stabilization, constantly surprising your body (and maybe your partner) and getting a better workout. If you find yourself in the same few positions every time and your most adventurous sex location is the foot of the bed (yawn), it’s definitely time to mix it up.

Engage your core at all times while having sex. Focusing on your core and isolating the muscles around your pelvic floor will not only strengthen your six-pack, it'll make your tummy look flatter in the moment. Also, there's increasing evidence that the right core workouts can induce orgasm. Talk about double the pleasure!

upwave: Quick 6-minute core workout (VIDEO)

We’ve already established that sex doesn’t really count as your primary form of exercise, so why not exercise for better sex? Research shows that women who regularly exercise have more active sex lives, reach orgasm more quickly and are more easily aroused than sedentary women.

Furthermore, in the study, women were more sexually responsive following 20 minutes of vigorous exercise. Among males, short intense exercise is linked with increased testosterone levels, which may stimulate sexual interest and behavior. Looking for the perfect warm-up and foreplay for a steamy hot shower session? A sexy morning workout with your other half may do the trick. Focus your workout on isolating muscles that will help you while in the sack. Pelvic thrusts are a must!

This article was originally published on How Much Sex Is Considered Exercise?

Be sure to watch HLN for every Sunday starting December 1 for an entertaining lineup, including “Cook Your Ass Off” at 7 p.m. ET, a transformational culinary contest hosted by celebrated chef Richard Blais that will change the diets and lives of everyday people with the help of nutritionist Keri Glassman. Following is the “The Tim Ferriss Experiment” at 8 p.m. ET, featuring the New York Times Best-Selling author using his signature rapid-learning techniques to master a unique, and seemingly impossible, challenge each week, helping viewers apply his learnings to improve their own lives. And concluding with “THE DOSE with Dr. Billy” at 8:30 p.m. ET, providing an entertaining look at daily health and wellness through the humor and insight of ER Dr. Billy Goldberg. 

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