Does replacing exercise with sex keep you fit?

If you could have more sex and do no exercise, would you? [Photo: Getty]
If you could have more sex and do no exercise, would you? [Photo: Getty]

For the wide majority of us, exercise is no fun. Whether you work out on a treadmill, by hitting the pavements or at a weekly yoga class, you would probably rather save yourself the hassle and expense and give it a miss altogether. Or, swap it with something equally energetic – and more fun – like sex.

But does swapping in sex for exercise actually help you stay fit and healthy?

The short answer is… Sort of.

According to nutritional physiologist Rick Hay, you’d need to have sex three or four times per day for at least half an hour to see genuine results in your fitness. “To get fit safely and productively, you need to work out specific muscles for a specific time and to a certain level and repetition,” he says. “You need to mix up your routine to achieve results in a shorter time.”

“As much as we’d all love to believe that sex is enough of a work out to ditch the gym membership, sadly the idea has been a little over-hyped,” adds a DocTap GP. “The Department of Health recommends that adults should do 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise each week so unless you’re feeling ambitious I wouldn’t ditch your running shoes just yet!”

That’s not to say that sex doesn’t have health benefits, or that it can’t form an enjoyable addition of your fitness routine. This is how you’ll benefit from adding sexercise to your regime.

Burning calories

“Studies have shown that on average women burn around three calories per minute during sex,” says DocTap’s GP. “Half of the average seven they burn on cardio activities like running on a treadmill.”

Ok, so you’d have to spend twice as long shagging as you would on the treadmill for the same results. Is that really so much of a hardship?

Helping you drift off

“During and after sex certain hormones are released such as oxytocin and prolactin, which improves the quality of your sleep,” says strength and conditioning coach Jack Coxall. And studies have repeatedly shown that, surprisingly, more time zonked out actually helps you lose weight. Win win.

Boosting your state of mind

“Regular sex with your partner releases the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin which can help us feel closer and more connected to your partner, and better experience empathic connections,” says Jack. Oxytocin can also “help relieve stress, just like the endorphins released during exercise”.


Different sex positions help to work out different muscles, says Rick Hay. For example, doggy style gets your quadriceps, core and glutes moving and cowgirl works your bum, core, lower abs, pelvic muscles, quads and calves.

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