Given how more than one huffing and puffing old man has suffered a heart attack underneath his mistress, you might believe a romp is the sack is akin to a SoulCycle session. Your heart rate is going! You sweat! Afterwards you want a Gatorade!
Well, The New York Times Magazine is here to burst your bubble.
Despite what “Masters Of Sex” might lead us to believe about scientific exploration of sexuality, the exercise benefits of sex is “largely unexplored,” according to reporter Gretchen Reynolds. Instead, we rely on myths and wishful thinking. One common myth is that a single sex session burns 100 calories. It’s fairly obvious why that isn’t true — sex lasts for different amounts of time every time, with partners switching positions, oftentimes with interruptions. It can’t be quantified the same for everyone. Additionally, not everyone is so able-bodied that sexual activity will be a physically strenuous activity.
So a study at the University of Quebec at Montreal by Professor Anthony Karelis took matters into their own hands, er, beds. He tracked 21 couples jogging on treadmills for 30 minutes and then gave them armbands to wear for the next month while they had sex at least once a week. The results? Jogging is more physically strenuous, with the occasional exception for some men during parts of sex. But overall, sex was equivalent to “playing doubles tennis or walking uphill.” Generally, sex only burned four calories per minute for men and three per minute for women — meaning us ladies need over half an hour of sweat-inducing sexytimes in order to actually burn 100 calories in the bedroom. But for most of us most of the time, sex is a fairly insignificant amount of calories. According to a 2008 study cited by the Times, the heart rate response was similar to “a few jumping jacks.” (Also, that heart-attack-under-the-mistress tale? It might be more of a myth. Explains the Times: “The risk for sex-related cardiac arrest is, in fact, vanishingly small, statistics show.”)
As someone who is on the bottom 99 percent of the time, because I am lazy, I wasn’t about to get my hopes up on this sex-as-exercise thing. But now that I know the longer you spend doing the deed, including foreplay, it’s all the more reason to prolong the excitement.