This Is Exactly How Many Calories You Could Burn by Having Sex

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Research says the count can vary—but odds are, it won't replace a daily workout

When it comes to breaking a sweat, a bit of fooling around is probably the most enjoyable way to do it. Plus, if you’re getting it on several times a week (or a day!), you can totally count it as a workout, right? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves; the science is mixed on the matter of sexual gains.

According to one study, 25 minutes of sex could burn over 100 calories for men, but just 69 for women. “Men weigh more than women, and because of this, the energy expenditure will be higher in men for the same exercise performed,” says study author Antony Karelis, professor at the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Quebec in Montreal. Plus, men may also be more physically active during sex. Compare that to 30 minutes of light running, during which women burned an average of 213 calories and men burned 276, according to the study’s results. Translation? If you’re looking to slim down, you might not want to give up the treadmill quite yet. These calorie-busting exercises can work wonders for your waistline, too.

Not impressed by the numbers? Thankfully, there are a few ways to inch up the calorie count.  Changing up your position could also add a solid workout to your bedroom activities, especially for women. “If you are on top, try moving your hips like a belly dancer; this feels great and will give you a workout,” suggests Jaiya Ma, a Los Angeles–based sexologist and the author of Red Hot Touch. “Also try a position where you squat on top of him and then bounce up and down. This is a great workout for your thighs and butt.” (Speaking of time, discover how long sex lasts for the average couple).

But even if you probably can’t count on sex to reach your weight loss goals, it still has lots of health benefits. Having sex regularly has been shown to help your body fight disease, improve your mental health and mood, and even make you look younger. Plus, thanks to a boost in the relaxing, feel-good chemical called serotonin in your body, sex will also help you get a solid night’s sleep. (Don’t miss out on what all the health benefits of sex are.)

That’s reason enough to get busy on the regular. And if you’re feeling guilty for skipping a workout, just hit the gym afterward! We won’t tell.

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  • PLOS One: "Energy Expenditure during Sexual Activity in Young Healthy Couples."
  • Antony Karelis, PhD, professor at the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Quebec, Montreal.
  • Jaiya Ma, sexologist and the author of Red Hot Touch in Los Angeles, CA.
Medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, on October 13, 2019