Sure, you might be hot, sweaty, and slightly short of breath after your latest steamy session, but does that mean sex actually qualifies as a legitimate workout? The short answer: yes and no. See, according to research, it depends. So before you and your partner shed those gym clothes and beeline to the bedroom, keep reading below, where we break down all the facts.
If you're wondering whether sex counts as cardio . . .
Not quite. Although your heart rate increases and you technically are burning calories during sex, this intimate session is unlikely to be intense enough to count as cardio. As Doug Barsanti, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and the founder of ReInvention Fitness, states, "Realistically, the intensity isn't high enough to take the place of a regular workout."
In a study conducted at the University of Montreal that monitored people's heart rates on a treadmill in comparison with sexual activity taking place at home, the treadmill ultimately won in terms of caloric expenditure.
While it is still recommended to continue your higher-intensity cardio intervals outside the bedroom, the good news is sex is considered a moderately rated exercise, and one that is shown to burn approximately four calories per minute, contingent upon how vigorous the act is. So just as with other physical activities, the more you put into "sexercising" — time, pace, movement, etc. — the more calories you'll burn . . . not to mention the more fun you'll have.
If you're wondering whether sex counts as strength training . . .
Again, yes and no. Although you do use a lot of muscles during sex, the degree to which you engage those groups largely depends on your sexual positions. For instance, the thrusting motion of "lovemaking" is an awesome way to work your stomach and glutes, which will essentially improve your posture. In addition, positioning yourself on top will also strengthen your legs and arms more so than if you're a passive partner on bottom.
Yet even though you might be "feeling the burn" in certain areas, because you're not working all the major muscle groups during sex, it is advised not to give up your regular strength-training routine.
If you're wondering whether exercise affects your sex life . . .
Simply put: you bet! As if you needed another motivator to lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement, studies have shown women who exercise on a regular basis not only have more active sex lives, but they are also quicker to reach the Big O and are more easily turned on.
So, what's the bottom line?
Yes, playing beneath the sheets (or anywhere, for that matter) is an awesome way to get your heart racing and burn some extra calories. But for the sake of your overall health — physically, mentally, and emotionally — don't go as far as canceling your gym membership just yet. Instead, make it a habit of engaging in both exercise and sex regularly.
But don't worry — if it's more of the latter, we won't tell!