How Many Calories Do You Burn During Sex?

It’s hard to imagine a more enjoyable way of burning calories than sex. (Most people would gladly trade in that run on the treadmill for a romp in the hay).

But is sex really the calorie-burning engine it’s often made out to be?

That’s what scientists have been trying to figure out for years. Researchers have attempted to measure the number of calories burned during sex on numerous occasions, but the results have varied greatly, says Carole Lieberman, MD, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist and author of Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them & How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets.

Still, there’s no question that sex can be good for your health. Fooling around gets your heart rate going — and there’s no better way to burn serious calories than when your heart is pumping.

Your Bedroom Guide to Calorie Burning

For the main act of intercourse, most calorie-burning estimates range from 100 to 200.

Add some foreplay into the mix, and you can increase the burn (and your sexual satisfaction while you’re at it!). “One thing’s for sure,” Dr. Lieberman says, “sex is a more satisfying calorie burner than a Stairmaster or Pilates class.”

Here’s how many calories a 150-pound woman burns when she:

Kisses. Pucker up! Depending on how passionate you get mid-smooch, you can burn anywhere from one to five calories a minute when kissing. A full-on make-out session can use up as many as 85 calories an hour, Lieberman says.

Fools around. When it comes to foreplay, it’s the time you actually spend fooling around that counts. A 150-pound person will burn about 25 calories for every 15 minutes of foreplay. Double (or triple!) the time involved, and you can burn the same amount of calories that you would during a 10-minute light jog, Lieberman says. Resist the temptation to be a passive recipient: Move those muscles.

Give her partner a massage. He’s been begging for a back rub — and here’s a good reason to give it to him: Massage burns about 80 calories an hour, Lieberman says. Take turns massaging each other; that way, you can both take advantage of the calorie burn (and its arousing effects).

Dirty dances. A good prelude to great sex? Go out dancing! Whether you head out on the town or make some suggestive moves in the privacy of your own bedroom, kicking up your heels can burn 170 or more calories in a half-hour.

Has an orgasm (again!). Want to top off your calorie-burning romp in the hay right? Reaching orgasm can burn an additional 60 to 100 calories, Lieberman says. So why stop after just one?

The secret to burning more calories during sex is easy, says Lieberman. All you have to do is put more passion, heat, and time into the act.

How Many Calories Does Sex Burn?

Several studies published in the last few years have discussed sex and calorie expenditure. One of them, from the University of Quebec at Montreal, studied 21 heterosexual couples in their early 20s. Researchers tracked energy expenditure during exercise and sexual activity. They used armbands to track activity.

Perceived energy expenditure, perception of effort, fatigue, and pleasure were also assessed after sexual activity.

All participants completed a 30-minute endurance exercise session on a treadmill at a moderate intensity to compare caloric expenditure.

Results showed that men burned 101 calories (4.2 calories per minute) on average during the 24-minute session. Women burned 69 calories (3.1 calories per minute). Mean intensity was 6.0 METS in men and 5.6 METS in women, which represents moderate intensity. During the 30-minute moderate-intensity treadmill session, men burned 276 calories and women burned 213 calories. Also, it was noted that perceived energy expenditure during sexual activity was similar in men and women when compared to measured energy expenditure.

What do these results mean? Sex doesn’t burn as many calories as moderate-intensity exercise, but the number of calories burned was still notable.

Another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine isn’t quite as forgiving with caloric expenditure estimations for sexual activity. The study says that a man weighing 154 pounds would, at 3 METs, expend approximately 3.5 calories per minute (210 calories per hour) during a stimulation and orgasm session.

This level of expenditure is similar to that achieved by walking at a moderate pace (approximately 2.5 miles per hour). But the study says that the average bout of sexual activity lasts for only about six minutes. This means that a man in his early-to-mid 30s could burn approximately 21 calories during sexual intercourse.

How Many Calories Does Having Sex Really Burn?

No matter what you are doing, you are always exercising and burning off calories. Did you know you that 10 minutes of laughing burns off about 50 calories? Even brushing your teeth for two minutes burns 5.7 calories.

Sex, the most enjoyable type of exercise, also burns off a handful of calories, but it’s difficult to say what a good average is. Some say it’s about 69 calories, whereas others claim sexercise can burn over 200.

Buried in a study about obesity in the New England Journal of Medicine is a small reference to this, which notes that a man in his mid-to-early 30s engaging in the average length of sexual activity – that’s six minutes – would burn off just 21 measly calories. This is based on a rough estimate of a person’s rate of energy conversion (metabolism) during sex – an educated guess, really.

Clearly, it’s complicated. It depends on a huge range of factors, including – but not limited to – whether you are male or female, who you’re engaging in a frivolous frisk with, how long the action lasts, how vigorous it is, your relative cardiovascular health, muscle mass and, of course, what position(s) you are taking.

So what sexual activity burns off the most calories? Let’s see what science has to say about it.

Calorie Counting

Physical activity, which obviously includes sex, makes up just 10 to 30 percent of your energy usage. The more muscles you have, the more energy they require to be used, and the more you need to respire, the more energy you’ll use up.

So if you have particularly spirited sex for longer, and you’re particularly muscly already, you’ll burn up more calories. That’s the basic science of any form of exercise.

Additionally, prolonging foreplay, maybe throwing in a massage or two – or a spontaneous dance show if you’re into that kind of thing – will certainly burn up more calories than just careening straight into coitus. There is one other thing that’s worth considering, though: orgasms.

Orgasms do make a difference, but it is not clear by how much. Mariyana M/

Photo: Milkos / Getty Images

Before we even talk sex, a reminder: The days of obsessive calorie-counting and “burn it/earn it” workout mentalities (vom) are over. But if you’re getting sweaty and out-of-breath in bed-and maybe even have some sore muscles the next day-it’s only natural to wonder if that romp was as much of a workout as it feels like now. (After all, if Khloé Kardashian swears by sex as part of her fitness routine, it has to have some merit, right?)

Good news: You’re not the only one wondering. “Believe it or not, I get asked this question a lot,” says Jonathan Jordan, a certified trainer at Equinox and a fitness expert based in San Francisco. Researchers have even done full studies on the average calorie burn during sex. Here’s what they found.

How Many Calories You Really Burn During Sex

One 2013 study published in the journal PLoS ONE found that, in young and healthy couples, men burned an average of 4.2 calories per minute and women burned an average of 3.1 calories per minute. During the average sex session (which in this study was 25 minutes), that translated to a total of 101 calories and 69 calories, respectively. (LOL good one, science.)

However, considering the real-life average bout of sexual activity only lasts six minutes, another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine hypothesizes that the actual calorie burn for the average person is much lower-closer to 15 or 20 calories.

Those second numbers are more in line with other estimates. For example, the 2011 Adult Compendium of Physical Activities (a resource that quantifies and standardizes the intensity of physical activities for research purposes) only ranks sexual activity as 1.3 METs (gentle) to 2.8 METs (vigorous). FYI: MET stands for metabolic equivalent, and it’s used to estimate how many calories are burned during physical activity; 1 MET translates to roughly 1 kcal/kg/hr. Translation: A 140-pound woman weighs approximately 63.5 kg, so she’d burn about 63.5 calories per hour of a 1-MET activity (like lying on the couch and watching Netflix). That means she’d burn somewhere between 83 and 178 calories for an entire hour of sex. (Is this math turning you on yet??)

Before You Start Calculating…

“But everyone’s caloric burn is different and it depends on your overall cardiovascular health, how high your heart rate gets, your resting energy requirements (your calorie burn at rest), etc.” says Jordan. “It also depends on what kind of sex you’re having.” To judge how hard you’re really working during sex, think of it like actual exercise: You’re probably going to burn fewer calories if you’re lying down vs. if you’re in a more active position (hey, cowgirl!). Chiller foreplay (like kissing) will probably naturally be at a lower intensity and burn fewer calories than when you’re going at it more intensely (ex: when you’re both closer to orgasm).

“If your bedroom cardio looks like a few minutes of ‘intense’ work with a short break and then repeating, then guess what? You’re basically doing HIIT,” he says. Or, at least, you might be doing HIIPA, high-intensity incidental physical activity. Yes, that’s a new thing: Fitness professionals and researchers are starting to see more value in non-exercise activities that get your heart pumping, and an editorial published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine argues that any activity that gets you out of breath can count as a sort of mini HIIT workout. (And that could most definitely include sex.)

But-for your sake and your partner’s-please don’t go overboard trying to calculate your calorie burn with a calculator or wearable. “It’s annoying enough when people become obsessed with tracking and hold up training sessions or classes because they can’t possibly exercise without tracking,” says Jordan. “I love tracking my fitness too, but I shudder at the thought of using it during sex…The stress relief and relaxation benefits of sex could be a great thing for your body; they could lower stress hormones and make your body healthier, happier, and more able to burn fat.” But if you’re worried too much about your Fitbit or about burning calories, you likely won’t get all those great benefits or enjoy yourself. (A much better goal? Multiple orgasms.)

So while sex isn’t exactly equivalent to a spin class (unless you do it like Ariana Grande at the 2016 VMAs??) you can sure as hell enjoy it knowing you’re earning all these amazing health benefits of sex regardless of how many calories you’re burning. (And, FWIW, hitting the gym pre-hookup actually makes for great foreplay.)

  • By Lauren Mazzo @lauren_mazzo

How many calories do you burn during sex?

“Sex is a really great form of exercise,” Pinzone says and it counts as an exercise (source: WebMD). It won’t replace the treadmill, but it counts for something. Sex and all its ingredients is great for your relationship and happiness, but it doesn’t end there. This intimate time with your better half is also beneficial for your physical health.
WebMD estimates that 30 minutes of sex can burn 85 calories or more. It is not much but if you keep up the good work saying 10 times a month equals 850 calories per month! Not as much as if you run on a treadmill but at least it is more pleasurable and you would love to practice more to last longer and burn more calories! And it is a mutual workout! So it is easy to sync your in-the-bed-gym times and keep practicing. No more commuting to the gym leads to less fuel consumption, less air pollution, less risk of being injured in the gym.. See? Just a bit of training at home will help saving the environment from pollution and global warming. Just do not forget to play safe and wear a condom.

Creative Ways to Increase the Calorie Consumption During Sex

I know you already are creative with your sex positions but some like standing positions or positions that requires more muscle work, will definitely make you burn more calories.
In a study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers studied 10 married couples and monitored their heart rate and blood pressure, together with a fast-responding oxygen gas analyzer and electrocardiography. Results were for men, self-stimulation increased heart rate by 37 percent. Man-on-top sex increased it by 51 percent.

Calculate How Much You Burn While Having Sex

To calculate how many calories you burn the next time you have sex, multiply the time in minutes by 2.83! Don’t just consider the time of actual intercourse, start counting from the moment the romance started, undressing, massaging, oral play and the intercourse. The longer you do each part, not only more calories you will burn, but also your relationships will brighten! Having sex has lots of other benefits that we have discussed in our previous posts().

Dr. Elist’s Advice:

Although it is a good workout but “Do not rely on sex as your only form of exercise.”

You Asked: How Many Calories Does Sex Burn?

Of all the ways a person could sweat, a roll in the hay is one of the most fun. But does sex actually burn a good number of calories?

Not as many as you think—but you can up your burn by doing it a certain way.

One study found that sex burned more than 100 calories, at least for men. A team from the University of Montreal compared the calorie expenditure of running to that of sex and found that—no surprise—running far outpaced the latter. Women burned an average of 213 calories during 30 minutes of light running, while men burned 276. Sex, on the other hand, demanded 101 calories from men and just 69 from women, burning an average of 3.6 calories per minute.

Why was sex a better workout for the guys? “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, a professor of human kinetics at the University of Montreal. Men may also be more physically active during sex, he says.

Even though sex is not the world’s best workout, it would still be nice if you could count on scorching 70 to 100 calories whenever you and your partner hopped in the sack. But you can’t always depend on it.

MORE: Here’s How Much Sex You Should Have Every Week

Sex sessions in that study typically lasted 25 minutes including foreplay, which is far longer than average. One study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the average bout of sex lasts just six minutes (although that number did not include foreplay).

The bedmates in the study, who were 23 years old on average, may also have been having more vigorous sex than the typical person. A study in American Journal of Cardiology found that the pre-orgasmic stage of sex—which, let’s face it, is most of it—requires barely more energy than you’d get walking. Especially among older couples in long-term relationships, sex is unlikely to crank your heart rate or energy output.

However, you can hack your sex life. The number of calories burned during sex varies widely from one session to another, Karelis says, so if you’re sweating and breathing hard at the end of it, you’ve probably burned more. Positions also matter: Research suggests that being on top requires more energy than being on the bottom.

Get our Health Newsletter. Sign up to receive the latest health and science news, plus answers to wellness questions and expert tips.

Thank you!

For your security, we’ve sent a confirmation email to the address you entered. Click the link to confirm your subscription and begin receiving our newsletters. If you don’t get the confirmation within 10 minutes, please check your spam folder.

Though we’re not suggesting it, sex with a forbidden mate may also increase your calorie burn. One study in the European Heart Journal found that 75% of sudden deaths from a heart attack during sex involved an extramarital partner. Exciting sex seems to crank your heart rate more than a run-of-the-mill romp, and so may provide a better workout.

But even if your sex life doesn’t burn a ton of calories, it’s still great for you. Regular sex is linked with lower rates of some cancers, as well as improved mental health and mood. Because it sends relaxing, feel-good chemicals through your system, sex also promotes sleep.

Those should be all the reasons you need to get it on more often. You can always go for a run afterwards.

Most Popular on TIME

Contact us at [email protected]

  • You’ve probably wondered whether sex burns a ton of calories, and some people claim it can burn 100 to 300 calories per session
  • But other research indicates that the answer largely depends on various factors, such as your weight and how vigorous your lovemaking session is

Ever wondered what kind of workout you can get between the sheets? Of course you have — hasn’t everyone?

Some people think that a romp in the sheets is an enjoyable (and calorie-burning) form of exercise in itself. But the truth is that the exact number of calories you burn during sex depends on a variety of factors, including your weight and how vigorous your romp is.

Wanna find out just how much fat you’re burning during sex? Here’s what scientists have discovered over the years.

In 2013, scientists at the University of Montreal attempted to answer this question by asking 21 heterosexual couples to wear SenseWear fitness trackers during their lovemaking. The couples also ran on a treadmill for 30 minutes to compare their sexercise to actual exercise.

The results, which were published in the journal PLOS ONE, concluded that men burn 100 calories during the average sex session, while women burn about 69 calories. (Nice.) The researchers estimated that men burn roughly 4.2 calories per minute during sex, while women burn 3.1 calories.

In total, the number of calories burned during sex was far less than the number of calories men burned during exercise, which was about 276 calories. But while hitting the gym might provide a more intense workout, the researchers concluded that, “sexual activity may potentially be considered, at times, as a significant exercise.”

Plus, the results of the study were based on the average amount of time the couples had sex, which was about 25 minutes — so we can reasonably assume that the longer the session, the more calories can be burned. (Want to find out for yourself? Multiply the number of minutes you have sex by the researchers’ 4.2 calories figure to get the approximate total number of calories you’ve burned.)

But before you get too excited about that potential calorie burn, another study published in 2013 concluded the opposite: that sex really isn’t much of a workout at all.

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the paper aimed to debunk certain weight loss-related myths, such as that sex can burn anywhere between 100 to 300 calories. This time, scientists used 1984 research published in JAMA Internal Medicine, which found that the average bout of sex lasted only six minutes. With this figure, they determined that a 154-lb., 30-something man only burns 21 calories during the typical sexual encounter.

In summation, if you’re trying to lose weight and you’re hoping to replace gym time with sex, you may want to stick with your traditional workout routine. But that doesn’t mean intercourse doesn’t have real health benefits.

In addition to improving your mood, sex can also boost your immunity. People who have sex at least once a week have been shown to benefit from higher levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody that protects you from illness, compared to those who didn’t get so lucky.

A healthy sex life can also reduce cancer risk in men. A large study in the British Medical Journal found that men who ejaculated at least 21 times per month were less likely to get prostate cancer than guys who only ejaculated four to seven times per month.

So yes, unfortunately, a tumble in the sheets doesn’t torch as many calories as you’d likely hoped. But hey, that shouldn’t stop you from having more sex.

Melissa Matthews Health Writer Melissa Matthews is the Health Writer at Men’s Health, covering the latest in food, nutrition, and health.

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.

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.

Sex to burn calories

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *