Does Having Sex Count As A Workout?

Science tells us what’s up.

During a good workout at the gym, you’re sweating, your heart rate is up, you feel the burn, and the burn feels so good.

When you’re having sex, you’re also sweating, your heart rate is up, but if you feel a burn, it doesn’t feel good and you should probably see a doctor.

Latter part aside, exercising and having sex seem to have some physical markers in common. Coincidence? I think not. But does this mean the vigorous bumping and grinding of sex counts as regular exercise? Well, it depends on your definition of exercise. If you count two deep knee bends and an orgasm as exercise, then yes. Otherwise, not really.

In case you needed evidence since everything sounds more legitimate when you hear it from a scientific perspective, we pulled together information from two separate studies that look at the physical commonalities of sex and regular exercise. 

So, does sex = exercise?

Evidence A: studies from the 1960s showed that having sex increases your heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure, which also all happen when you work out.

Evidence B: in a 2013 study, 21 couples’ vitals were tracked as they first completed a 30-minute endurance test on a treadmill, then had sex at least once per week over the course of a month. Data analysis showed having sex qualifies as a “moderate intensity” activity. It’s more or less the energy expenditure equivalent of walking uphill or playing tennis, but burns about half as many calories as running on the treadmill. But it’s still essentially exercise.

One thing to note is that foreplay doesn’t count as exercise at all. Sorry. The study found that during actual P-in-V sex, men burn an average of 4 calories per minute, and women burn about 3. Considering that part lasts around 5.4 minutes for most couples, having sex burns a paltry 20 calories. So again, depending on how you define exercise, having sex could definitely count towards your daily exercise goal.

Even though sex doesn’t last very long and doesn’t burn very many calories, it still has health benefits that are comparable to working out. For example, both flood your body with feel-good endorphins, reducing stress and increasing confidence. Maybe it’s even better than regular exercise, though it won’t give you washboard abs.

“Sex should not replace regular exercise. Rather, sex and exercise should both be incorporated into your routine on a regular basis. Studies show that each improves health, so the combination of the two leads to a greater quality of life,” Antony D. Karelis, the author of the 2013 study, told Men’s Journal.

You heard the man. Combine sex with regular exercise and lift weights between the sheets. Just kidding. Or not. Do whatever you want.