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When I think of the ultimate sex workout, I picture the scene from Mr. and Mrs. Smith wherein Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie throw each other around their kitchen for an hour. Unfortunately, not every sexual experience is quite that... well, high-intensity. But how many calories do we really burn in the act?

Rumor: A bout of sexual activity can burn between 100 and 300 calories

We hear all the time that sex is a great workout, but what are the hard facts? How much sex is considered exercise? On a scale from fast asleep to Brangelina, where does the average sexual encounter lie on the calorie-burning scale?

The Verdict: Sex burns a few calories, but frequent friskiness isn't going to replace the gym

You may not be getting quite as good of a workout between the sheets as you think. According to a study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine, sex lasts six minutes on average and only burns about 21 calories. As an exercise physiologist and someone who even finds ways to burn calories while driving and working on my computer, I found this to be a very disappointing statistic. According to WebMD, 30 minutes of sex can burn in the neighborhood of 85 to 100 calories; if you feel like you have a pretty vigorous sex life, you’re probably on the higher end of that statistic.

This got me thinking. While it appears that we probably shouldn’t be giving up our gym memberships in the name of sex anytime soon, there are ways we can optimize our sexercise. Here are some ideas: 

Sex before breakfast. Having sex in the morning is a great idea for several reasons. A man’s testosterone levels are the highest between 7:00 and 8:00 in the morning, for one. Also, if you make time for a half-hour morning session, you can roll out of bed and right into your morning workout and you’re already warmed up! Now that’s something worth setting your alarm for.

Eating for endurance. Incorporating some endurance-boosting foods can also help when trying to kick it up a notch in the sex department. Foods such as figs, oysters, celery, blueberries, peanuts, bananas, garlic and even chocolate have the potential to boost a man’s sexual stamina. (Note: Carb-loading the night before your morning sexathon is not recommended and will likely be counterproductive.)

Switch it up. With sexercise -- as with any workout -- it’s important to try new and different things all the time. By trying more challenging and adventurous positions, you use different muscles for stabilization, constantly surprising your body (and maybe your partner), and getting a better workout. If you find yourself in the same few positions every time and your most adventurous sex location is the foot of the bed (yawn), it’s definitely time to mix it up.

Core-gasm. Engage your core at all times while having sex. Focusing on your core and isolating the muscles around your pelvic floor will not only strengthen your six-pack, it'll make your tummy look flatter in the moment. Also, there's increasing evidence that the right core workouts can induce orgasm. Talk about double the pleasure!

Cross-train. We’ve already established that sex doesn’t really count as your primary form of exercise, so why not exercise for better sex? Research shows that women who regularly exercise have more active sex lives, reach orgasm more quickly and are more easily aroused than sedentary women. Furthermore, in the study, women were more sexually responsive following 20 minutes of vigorous exercise. Among males, short intense exercise is linked with increased testosterone levels, which may stimulate sexual interest and behavior. Looking for the perfect warm-up and foreplay for a steamy hot shower session? A sexy morning workout with your other half may do the trick. Focus your workout on isolating muscles that will help you while in the sack. Pelvic thrusts are a must!

 

Riley Rearden contributed to this article.


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