You Asked: ''Does Sex Count as Cardio? How Many Calories Does It Burn?''

By , SparkPeople Blogger
We get this question a lot. And we don't list sex in our cardio tracker for several reasons.

For reference, a cardio workout is anything that raises your heart rate for an extended period of time, usually 20-30 minutes. It works all of the major muscle groups, and you should find yourself sweating and breathing hard during the most intense part of the workout. 

Cardio works large muscle groups repetitively (such as how running uses your large leg & arm muscles and swimming uses your whole body). Sex does not typically use major muscle groups (or at least not in a full range of motion the way that these examples do).

Cardio must reach a specific level of intensity, meaning that you must elevate your heart rate to an aerobic level and sustain it there—about 60-85% of your max heart rate, or on a Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale (where you estimate how hard you are working on a scale of 1-10, about a 6-8.5). Although you may be breathing heavily during sex, this isn’t necessarily because your heart rate is up. It has more to do with hormones and what’s going on with your nervous system. (Think of how you may breathe harder or feel your heart rate increase if you’re scared—that doesn’t mean you’re getting a cardio workout.)

How many calories you're burning during sex really depends on too many factors. It's like asking "does walking burn a lot of calories?" It depends on your speed, distance, duration, intensity, etc. 

Now, if you really feel that your sexual activity meets all of these requirements—although I'd recommend taking your heart rate several times during it to make sure—then you could probably count it as cardio. But according to most calorie counters, the calorie burn is pretty minimal—less than walking and not much more than just sitting. Plus, how accurate is that?

It’s important to distinguish that not all activities are a workout. Sure, being "active" burns more calories than not being active. But just because you’re burning a few additional calories does not mean you are exercising or that you’re receiving the same benefits of a true workout.

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interesting! Report
PATRICIAAK 10/10/2020
:) Report
CECELW 6/29/2020
I am seriously speechless Report
PATRICIAAK 5/10/2020
:) Report
Well explained! Thanks! Report
But I don't raise my heart rate during yoga and that counts. I'll keep logging my 69 calories burnt for 30 minutes of sex (Not being funny.... that's what I found when I researched) and my yoga. Report
Interesting information. Report
We've all thought about it. I'm glad for anyone who can meet these requirements! Report
INteresting! ;) Report
Well explained, Coach Nicole! Report
I enjoyed reading this one, Coach Nicole! Very interesting. Thank you! Report
I believe that as you get older you should burn more calories in less time. LOL Report
Some things need to be kept private! I personally don't want to read that someone had sex on the activity feed. I have and will continue to unfriend someone who logs they had sex. It's like one person bragged about over an hour of sex! Really? Like I want to know? Report
Three minutes burns how many calories? Report
LOL, if you're having sex and it takes less than 30 mins, you're doing it wrong! There are men out there who love the whole range of motions and many different positions for the women as well. Definitely sweating going on after that long! :D
But for Quickies and Minute Men? Nah, don't bother counting any calories then. Report
Lot more fun than running laps, though. Report
Agreed AMACTINK. There is a calorie counter that will tell you how much you burn, just Google it. Sex usually has increase heart rate, intense sweating, multiple positions, etc. So you are getting a full body workout I would think. Maybe these finding are for those not so much involved in their acts? Report
Not much more than sitting? I hate to break it to you but youre doing it wrong.
I wonder if there is a legitimate way of measuring it. Spark activity tracker? Report