Wouldn’t it be great if a night (or morning) of passion doubled up as a calorie-burning session? I’m often asked about the potential of various activities to contribute to weight loss. And yes, sex often comes up in these conversations! The idea of turning pleasure into a workout is quite enticing.
But how many calories do we actually burn during sex? Is it enough to skip the gym?
Well, like most things in life, determining the average calories burned during sex isn’t as simple as it might seem. There are several factors involved, such as intensity, duration, and even individual metabolic rate.
While there’s no universal answer, various studies have suggested that sex can indeed help you burn calories. So, let’s explore some of the findings and gain a better understanding of the calorie-burning potential of sex.
How Many Calories Do You Burn With Good Sex?
The number of calories burned during sex is determined by the intensity and duration of the act, the specific activities involved, and individual body weight.
Research has shown that the average number of calories burned during sex per minute is approximately 4.2 for men and 3.1 for women (4). Extrapolating from these figures, a half-hour session could theoretically burn approximately 126 calories for men and 93 for women.
Okay, so sex burns calories. But you’re probably wondering if it’s enough to help with your weight loss. Many experts have suggested that while sex burns calories, the amount is usually too small to significantly impact the number of pounds dropped over time.
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To put things into perspective, here’s how many calories you burn performing various sexual activities:
While it may not seem like a strenuous activity, kissing burns calories. A passionate kiss can actually burn approximately 4 calories per minute (7). Factors including the intensity and duration of a kiss can significantly affect the total calories burned.
Engaging in Foreplay
Foreplay is an essential part of the sexual experience and also contributes to calorie burning. Depending on the intensity, you can expect to burn between 5 and 7 calories per minute during foreplay.
The act of sex itself can burn a substantial amount of calories. Calories burned during sex for an hour are approximately 103 calories for an individual who weighs 180 pounds (5).
Reaching climax is part of the sexual response cycle and orgasm calories can contribute a small percentage to your calorie burn. Based on our earlier findings of calories burned during sex, you can burn approximately 3 to 4 calories per minute during orgasm (4). However, this stage generally doesn’t last long enough to have a significant impact on your overall calorie expenditure.
Having a Post-Sex Cuddle
Even after the main event, your body continues burning calories. Post-sex cuddling can burn approximately 1 to 2 calories per minute, depending on your weight and the warmth of your surroundings. This is based on estimates of calories that are burned while hugging.
How Many Calories Do Women Burn During Sex?
A study found that women burned an average of 3.1 calories per minute while having sex (4). If we take an estimated average of 30 minutes for a sexual encounter, this equates to approximately 93 calories being burned.
If a woman enjoys cowgirl or reverse cowgirl, or prefers a more rigorous session, she can expect to burn slightly more compared to a woman who is less active.
Research has suggested that women tend to burn fewer calories than men during sex. The same study found that the calories burned during sex for men are approximately 4.2 calories per minute (4).
The difference may be due to the fact that men typically weigh more and have higher energy expenditure than women. They also tend to engage in more vigorous activities or spend more time in positions where they bear the brunt of their own weight.
Calories Burned During Sex vs Other Activities
Comparing the calories that are burned during sex to other physical activities such as walking and running can provide an interesting perspective on the energy expenditure that is associated with these different activities.
Calories Burned During Sex vs Walking
The number of calories burned during sex can vary widely, but on average, people burn between 3-4 calories per minute while having sex. This equates to approximately 100 to 200 calories for a session that lasts between 25 and 50 minutes.
At the same time, walking burns more calories than sex on a per-minute basis, depending on your walking speed. The general estimate is that a person burns anywhere between 3-9 calories per minute of walking. If it takes you 30 minutes to walk a mile, you will burn 3.3 calories per minute, and if it takes you 20 minutes to walk a mile, you will burn 5 calories per minute.
Calories Burned During Sex vs Running
Not surprisingly, running will burn more calories than sex. An individual who weighs 120 pounds will burn 314 calories running for 30 minutes (6). In contrast, the same duration of sex will burn 93 calories for women and 126 for men.
Calories Burned During Sex vs Cycling
Similar to running, cycling tends to burn more calories than sex. According to the Harvard Medical School, a person who weighs 155 pounds can burn approximately 432 calories during 30 minutes of vigorous cycling (2). Comparatively, the same duration of sex will burn approximately 108 calories for a man and 93 for a woman.
Calories Burned During Sex vs Swimming
Swimming is also a more intense form of exercise than sex and as such, it burns a greater number of calories. A person who weighs 155 pounds will burn approximately 360 calories during 30 minutes of vigorous swimming (2), significantly more than during sex.
Are There Any Other Benefits of Sex?
Although the calorie-burning potential is generally considered to be too small for significant weight loss, there are other benefits you can reap from a good session. Let’s take a look at some sex health benefits:
Regular sexual activity has been found to be associated with higher levels of antibodies called immunoglobulin A, which can help protect us from colds and other illnesses (12).
The hormones that are released during sex can help alleviate and even reduce the symptoms of chronic pain (10).
Research has suggested that regular sex can boost cardiovascular health by strengthening the heart muscles and arteries, which leads to a healthier heart overall (8).
Orgasms release the hormone prolactin, which helps you fall asleep more easily. In addition, the oxytocin that is released during sexual activity promotes deep sleep, which can improve memory and the body’s ability to heal (14).
Engaging in sexual activity can contribute to better body image and improved self-esteem. Research has shown that sexual behavior is linked to higher levels of self-esteem and general life satisfaction (15).
Regular sexual activity can lead to increased emotional intimacy, improved communication, and a stronger bond between partners (9). The oxytocin that is released during sex, which is often referred to as the “love hormone”, helps foster feelings of love, trust, and connection.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How many calories does 30 minutes of sex burn?
The number of calories burned during 30 minutes of sex can vary widely, but it is estimated that individuals burn between 3 to 4 calories per minute on average. Therefore, a 30-minute session can burn approximately 90 to 120 calories.
How many calories does 3 hours of sex burn?
Assuming a 30-minute session of sex burns between 90 and 120 calories, a three-hour session will burn between 540 and 720 calories. However, this is a rough estimation and the actual number of calories burned will be determined by the individuals’ weights, the intensity of the activity, and the specific sexual activities that are performed.
Does lazy sex burn calories?
Yes, even less vigorous or “lazy” sex burns calories, although the amount will be less than during more active sessions. The exact number of calories burned is dependent on a variety of factors, but it could be in the range of 1 to 2 calories per minute.
How much sex Is healthy?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as what constitutes a healthy amount of sex varies from person to person based on age, overall health, and personal desire.
That being said, research has suggested that having sex once a week can help maintain a healthy relationship for many couples (13). Some couples may also benefit from sex therapy exercises.
Does sex count as exercise?
While sex burns calories and can contribute to cardiovascular health, it generally doesn’t burn as many calories as traditional forms of exercise such as running or cycling. However, it can certainly be part of an overall active lifestyle, and it offers numerous other health benefits, such as stress reduction, improved sleep, and enhanced mood (3).
The Bottom Line
So, can you ditch the gym and rely solely on sex for weight loss? No, sadly not. While sex can certainly contribute to your overall calorie burn, it cannot be used as a replacement for traditional forms of exercise in terms of intensity and caloric burn. For example, a 30-minute jog can burn anything between 180 and 252 calories depending on your pace and weight, which is significantly more than a typical sex session.
However, this doesn’t mean that the calorie-burning potential of sex should be overlooked. In addition to the physical benefits, sex also contributes to improved mental health, stress reduction, and enhanced relationships, all of which can indirectly contribute to weight management. It’s a form of physical activity that can be both fun and beneficial.
Ultimately, the key to successful weight loss lies in a balanced approach. A combination of regular exercise, a healthy diet, and an active lifestyle — including sexual activity — will yield the best results. Including all of these elements will not only help with weight loss, it will also contribute to overall well-being and life satisfaction.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A novel role of oxytocin: Oxytocin-induced well-being in humans (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights (2021, health.harvard.edu)
- Changes in, and factors associated with, frequency of sex in Britain: evidence from three National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) (2019, bmj.com)
- Energy Expenditure during Sexual Activity in Young Healthy Couples (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- How many calories do you burn having Sex? (n.d., burned-calories.com)
- How many calories do you burn Running? (n.d., burned-calories.com)
- How many calories do you burn with Kissing? (n.d., burned-calories.com)
- Is Sex Good for Your Health? A National Study on Partnered Sexuality and Cardiovascular Risk Among Older Men and Women (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- More Than Just Sex: Affection Mediates the Association Between Sexual Activity and Well-Being (2017, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Pain sensitivity and individual differences in self-reported sexual behavior (2000, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Regulatory roles of sex hormones in cutaneous biology and immunology (2005, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Sexual frequency and salivary immunoglobulin A (IgA) (2004, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Sexual Frequency Predicts Greater Well-Being, But More is Not Always Better (2015, journals.sagepub.com)
- Sleeping together: understanding the association between relationship type, sexual activity, and sleep (2022, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Association Between Sexual Health and Physical, Mental, and Social Health in Adolescent Women (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)