Apart from intimacy and pleasure, sex can also make a difference in overall health. Engaging in sexual activity regularly can result in burning calories and even weight loss. Dr Priyam Mukherjee, consultant senior cardiologist at Fortis Hospital in Kolkata, says “Apart from burning calories, sexual activity also causes an increase in heart rate, similar to running, jogging or swimming.” Hence, regular sexual activity also has the same cardiovascular benefits as doing your regular cardio workout routine.
Here’s why sex is good for you
Dr Ooha Susmita, a consultant neuropsychiatrist who specializes in sexual health at Allo Health, Bangalore, says that healthy sex can be counted as mild to moderate intensity exercise that burns about five calories per minute.
The calorie count might also vary from person to person says Sunil Kumar, a fitness consultant based in Bengaluru. He adds that the more time spent having sex, the more calories one would burn.
Dr Mukherjee explains that regular sexual activity releases endorphins and oxytocin, the feel-good hormones that decrease anxiety levels and help one get sound sleep. A study published in the June 2004, edition of Psychology Reports journal states that people who had sex one to two times per week had more immunoglobin (an antibody that improves immunity) in their saliva than people who didn’t have sex frequently.
Dr Susmita adds that it can help improve the person’s lower back functioning as a single unit and helps relearn the use of the largest muscle in the body (gluteus maximus). It is a workout for the pelvic muscles and for the rest of the lower body muscles. A research study published in the 2016 Oxford Journal of Age and Ageing suggests that a healthy sex life in older age could be instrumental in improving cognitive function and well-being.
Can you replace exercise with sex?
Half an hour of sexual activity burns about 150 calories in men and even less in women. According to a 2013 research article, men on an average burnt 276 calories and women burnt around 213 calories after a 30-minute moderate-intensity treadmill endurance test. Furthermore, sex burns four more calories than simply watching TV. Hence, one should not replace exercise with sex or rely on it as the only form of exercise.
Health benefits of sex
Dr Mukherjee explains that sex is a form of exercise that improves heart health and blood circulation. The protective benefits include most adverse cardiovascular conditions like heart attacks and heart failure. According to a study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior published in the American Sociological Association’s (ASA), 2016 September edition, sex reduces the risk of hypertension in women and it ensures some cardiovascular benefits in men.
For older men, having sex too frequently or sudden emotional reactions from sex might pose a cardiovascular risk on some rare occasions. Dr Mukherjee explains that after heart surgery, you need to check with your cardiologist about your heart’s endurance limit. Dr Susmita adds that in case of breathlessness, chest pain, palpitations, dizziness, visual disturbances or any other such discomfort during sex, one must stop immediately and consult a doctor. For people with no underlying heart conditions, she suggests that if they can climb two flights of stairs comfortably, they’re fit for sex.
- Human bodies respond similarly to sex and moderate physical activities like brisk walks and swimming.
- Sex also releases feel-good hormones that help with sleep and anxiety.
- Sex is also good for heart health and to a certain extent prevents various cardiovascular conditions.
- While sex helps burn calories and overall well-being, it’s not a substitute for exercise.