Sex, Calories, and METs: The Fitness Guru’s Guide to Sex

Does sex really burn as many calories as it promises? Here’s a rundown of how many calories sex burns and how it compares to other exercises.


As a physical therapist, I’ve been subjected to rigorous lectures and practical training sessions that have allowed me to learn more about the human body and how I can help people achieve functionality after they’ve experienced debilitating medical issues like trauma and disease.
We were also taught how to assess a person’s capability to perform certain activities, including sex. I just had to emphasize that word because that’s exactly what you’re here for, right? *wink* All joking aside, knowing how sex affects your body may be just as important knowing as how a gym session would affect it.
How does sex affect the body?
When people have sex, their bodies undergoes not just psychological changes, but also physical ones. That much is obvious, considering how sex ends, but there is still the matter of what actually happens during the activity. Depending on how people perform sexually, their bodies burn different amounts of calories and exert various levels of effort.
The muscles
The regular missionary position takes a toll on people’s backs and legs, but because Kama sutra has offered up a variety of new heart-attack-inducing positions, it’s safe to say that there are more muscles being subjected to increasing tension and work in some of these positions.
For those who are regularly on top, the core is taking the brunt of the work. When thrusting, the hips flex and extend, depending on how quickly a person wants to move. The same goes for women who are on top. The hips and thighs do most of the work there, too.
The arms get just as much action because they’re what people use to lift themselves up in order to avoid crushing their partner. Now, if a person decides to use a different position, say, doggy style, then the muscles being used change as well. The legs become more involved, but gravity can help.
From a therapist’s standpoint, people should not attempt to perform extremely difficult positions. Why? Because they can literally break your bones. Not only that, but people can get sprains and strains that will call for a trip to the emergency room. We can all agree that people don’t want to go to the emergency room in compromising positions, right? [Read: 13 untold sex secrets you need to know]
The organ systems
Obviously, the reproductive system is in full swing during sex, but other systems are also activated. The two most important systems would be the cardiovascular system and the endocrine system. The heart pumps more than the usual amount of blood during intercourse, and hormones are shooting out in rapid speeds in order to accommodate the sexual, emotional, and physical act.
This information is significant because not everyone can handle the extreme conditions that the body undergoes during sex. Adrenaline is pumped out, the lungs need to take in more air, and the heart is forced to pump more blood out. These same things happen when you work out. What’s significant about this is how the physical act of sex can affect the body in the long run. That’s where calories and metabolic equivalents *METs* come in. [Read: 12 benefits of exercise on your mind, body, and libido]

Metabolic equivalent of sex
Before delving into how many calories are burned during sexual acts, let’s take a look at its metabolic equivalent. To put it simply, METs are used to measure how much energy is exerted during certain activities. Physical therapists use this to assess whether a person is allowed to do certain activities during the course of their treatment, like walking, running, and… sex!
When it comes to traditional sex, the body exerts about 4 to 5 METs. That may not seem like much, but if you look at this chart, you will see that having sex for a short duration is equivalent to bicycling at 8 miles per hour or playing volleyball.
To get an even better picture of how much energy sex burns, a study was done to determine the comparison between jogging for half an hour and having sex once a week for a whole month.
The researchers found that couples had used up more METs while jogging, but exerted more energy during sex. This shows that even though sex doesn’t burn as much as jogging, it can still be considered as a moderate form of exercise because people are more willing to do it.
Still, there’s the issue of its psychological ramifications. Sex might be healthy in the long run, but it does not account for how much a person is willing to do it in the course of a week or month.
Here’s a bit of trivia for you: Sex with a mistress or lover during an affair tends to use more METs and burn more calories. Experts have different theories for why this may be the case, but one of the funniest ones is that it’s because they have to get dressed really quickly… We do not recommend this at all, of course. It’s just a funny fact that was studied by serious scientists in laboratories. [Read: How to end an affair and get over it completely]
How many calories does sex burn?
Next up, calories! While some people may not be too interested in calorie counting, perhaps finding out how many calories sex burns might make some more inclined to start preparing healthier meals and, of course, having more sex.
Let’s start with foreplay and ease into the good stuff, shall we?
Wanna know more about the numbers? Here are a few really interesting details we’ve collected from Woman’s Day:
-Kissing *68 calories per hour* We highly doubt anyone would be willing to kiss for a whole hour, but adding this into the mix during sex will seriously help burn off those extra calories.
-Making out *238 calories per half-hour* Making out does elicit more blood circulation than traditional kissing and allows people to move around more during the activity. [Read: 15 tips for a sizzling, satisfying make out session]
-Undressing *8 calories* We’re not surprised at all. This is probably the fastest activity in the whole line-up.
-Normal sex *4 to 3 calories per minute* That sounds impressive, but not quite as impressive as jogging and a full workout at the gym. But hey, it’s sex! [Read: 8 ways to make missionary sex magical]
-Oral sex *100 calories per half-hour* Remember that calories burn off because of the collective movement of the body. Just because this activity requires only certain muscles does not mean that it’s not extremely demanding on the whole body.
-Getting handsy *100 calories per hour* For those of you who are very much into some self-lovin’, you may not need a partner to burn a few calories off. But isn’t it better to give each other a helping hand instead? [Read: Going solo: The 15 sexy benefits of masturbation]
Are you excited to use this newfound information for your next workout session in the sheets? If you know more calorie-burning activities in bed, tell us in the comments below!

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Danielle Anne
Those who can’t do, teach. I can neither do nor teach as well as others, but I can try. Aside from being a writer, I am also a physical therapist. My dream is...
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