Wouldn’t it be great if you could give up the gym, throw away your running shoes and replace your workout routine with loads of sex? When the sex is fast and vigorous one or both of you may end up sweating and out of breath, so the logical conclusion would be that it’s been a great workout equivalent to other forms of intense cardio. Right?
Some people seem convinced that sex can burn anything from 100 to over 1,000 calories per session. The reality, however, may not be as extreme. So how many calories does sex burn? Let’s find out…
What are calories?
Your body burns calories by simply existing, because it needs energy to do the millions of little tasks that keep you functioning and alive. How many calories you burn depends on how much body fat you have, your weight, your age, your muscle mass, your gender, age, hormones and overall health.
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is how many calories you burn as your body performs its essential functions, without taking exercise or physical activity into account. You can figure out what your personal BMR is by doing a bunch of maths involving your height and weight, or you can use an online calculator like this one.
You can also burn additional calories by doing physical activity, which can be anything from walking around your house to running a marathon. The more active you are and the more intense your activity is, the more calories you burn. Your body can also burn more calories post workout – especially after high intensity activities and strength training – as the body repairs.
The amount of calories you burn during a workout depends on the same factors as your BMR – your body weight, age, gender etc. For example, if you weigh 68 kg and you walk fast for 45 minutes, you could burn around 193 calories (the exact amount you would personally burn also depends on the other factors listed above). If you weigh 80 kg and do the same activity, you could burn around 227 calories.
You don’t need to be doing a standard form of physical activity to burn calories – remember that you burn calories simply by existing, and any additional activity burns more on top. If you weigh 60 kg and you’re cooking for 45 minutes, you may burn around 90 calories, whilst someone of the same weight fishing for 45 minutes could burn 224 calories. You can find your own calorie calculations here.
Focusing on how many calories you may be burning could take some of the enjoyment and presentness out of sex, which isn’t what anyone wants!
How many calories do you burn having sex?
Sex is a physical activity, so when you have sex you burn calories. The amount of calories you burn depends on a lot of factors, including the speed of the sex, the position, and your own weight, age, gender etc.
One study in Canada found that the average amount of calories burned during ‘moderate’ sexual activity between heterosexual couples was 101 calories for men and 69 calories for women. The study concluded that sex could potentially be considered a ‘significant exercise’.
On average, men and people assigned male at birth tend to weigh more than women and people assigned female at birth, and they also tend to have larger muscle mass, which means they burn more calories.
“It’s difficult to give a calculation that will be accurate for most people as there are so many variables involved. Individual differences such as weight, age, gender, and level of fitness, combined with activity-based variables like the duration of sex and how active you are during the sex, all impact the number of calories burned,” says sexpert Isabelle Uren.
Isabelle wants to stress the potential negative impact obsessive calorie counting can have. Focusing on how many calories you may be burning could also take some of the enjoyment and presentness out of sex, which isn’t what anyone wants! Instead, Isabelle encourages us to focus on the other benefits of sex, such as improved mood, reduced stress, enhanced intimacy, a stronger immune system, and reduced pain.
If you do want to make your sex life more energetic, Isabelle has some tips: “There are plenty of sex positions that will get your heart pumping in more ways than one. Positions that give you a better workout will involve more movement, muscle engagement, or holding your own body weight in challenging positions include the Amazon, the wheelbarrow and anything which involves one partner standing and holding the other’s body weight.”
No matter what type of sex you’re having, it’s always better when you feel confident and comfortable with your chosen method of contraception. We know it can be hard to find a contraceptive method which works for you, and many people have to try a few different options before they settle with something that feels right.
If you’re looking to change your contraceptive method, Hana® is a progestogen-only contraceptive pill available to buy over the pharmacy counter and online with no need for a doctor’s appointment.