Sex Counts as 'Moderate Exercise'

Calories burned are the equivalent of 25 minutes of walking uphill, research says.
More
Elvis Presely, 1956, in a performance panned for its "animalism." (AP)

I'm against quantifying anything unless it's somehow necessary, including things like running and friends and "time." The Fitbit and everything else that's popular right now are against me. In the most recent New York Times Magazine, Gretchen Reynolds recapped an interesting study germane to these tendencies, in which Dr. Antony D. Karelis, a professor of exercise science at the University of Quebec at Montreal, quantified the caloric benefits of sex and qualified them as "moderate exercise."

Karelis had research subjects wear heart monitors during sex, and also during various types of exercise. He found that average sex was the metabolic equivalent of "playing doubles tennis or walking uphill" but slightly less than jogging—"though some men, according to their activity monitors, used more energy for brief periods during sex than they did jogging."

More numbers of note: "The sex also burned four calories per minute for men and three per minute for women, during sessions that ranged from 10 to 57 minutes, including foreplay. The average was 25 minutes." The average number of calories burned was 85.

Also, Reynolds says, "Ninety-eight percent of Karelis’s volunteers reported that sex felt more fun than jogging." She attributes that to two percent having unsatisfying sex, but it could also be uniquely satisfying jogging. Further study warranted.

This research is full of interesting data for conversation and self-reflection, though it's worth also noting, which the magazine did not, that the average participant in the study was 22 years old. Also, ten minutes is not much tennis. Does that even count as tennis? Anyway, what else can we quantify?

Jump to comments
Presented by

James Hamblin, MD, is a senior editor at The AtlanticHe is the host of If Our Bodies Could Talk.

 
 
More

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In