Are there any reviews out there of scientific studies conforming or invalidating the common claim that sexual activity is a good way to burn calories? Have quantitative measurements of work exerted (i.e., energy spent) during sex ever been undertaken?

I can imagine that the popularity of this idea has lead to some testing over the ages, but use of the scientific method might have been impeded as

  1. it was a rather taboo topic until the sexual revolution
  2. there are so many variables involved (type of sexual activity, just to name one).

I tried some research myself, but generic web search engines for such keywords are overloaded by content of a, let's say, totally unacademic type.

  • 2
    Well, you're not not going to burn calories. And it's good. My review confirms the claim. :)
    – user2466
    May 13, 2011 at 8:08
  • I didn't add this to the question, as it seems obvious: if someone knows of a study looking for participants, I might be convinced to enroll :)
    – F'x
    May 13, 2011 at 8:57
  • good way compared to what though.
    – Andy
    May 13, 2011 at 10:10
  • 1
    Doesn't it depend entirely on how you do it?
    – Lagerbaer
    May 13, 2011 at 14:33
  • 14
    When I do it, I usually just lie there and eat marshmallows.
    – MSpeed
    May 13, 2011 at 14:52

1 Answer 1


From "Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: October 2000 - Volume 10 - Issue 4 - pp 233-234"

Considering that normal sexual intercourse between married partners expends only 25-50 calories (kCal)(the energy equivalent of walking up two flights of stairs),6 it is doubtful that sex the previous night would affect laboratory physiological performance tests.

From "Jeremy Brecher - Sex, Stress, and Health - International Journal of Health Services, 1977 - Baywood"

Each partner uses approximately 100 calories (kCal)

From "Better Sex Through Exercise", by Cathy K. Naughton, MD:

Sex may be considered a type of physical activity. Indeed, a 180 pound (82 Kg) individual burns approximately 120 calories (kCal) engaging in one hour of sexual activity using vigorous effort; burns 100 calories (kCal) using moderate effort; and burns 80 calories (kCal) kissing and hugging. The physical exertion required for sexual activity and therefore, calories burned may vary widely among individuals [Cited: DeBusk RF.: Am J Cardiol 86 (Suppl 1): 51F-56F, 2000.].

P.S. A less scholarly but more fun read is The dieter's guide to weight loss during sex by Richard Smith.

  • You might want to check "Sex before competition" by Mirkin G, which is referenced in your quote.
    – Borror0
    May 13, 2011 at 14:46
  • Since there are different measurings used by physics and nutrition experts, and between the US and Europe, where a Kcal here is refered to as a Calorie there, can you please clarify which measurement you use and cite? 1g of Noodles is 3.5 kcal - I can't imagine that I need to have sex 35 times to burn a single noodle (except my own one). Feb 8, 2012 at 0:37
  • Note that 1 kcal = 1 Cal = 1000 cal (note the different capitalization). 1 cal (small calorie) is the energy needed to increase the temperature of 1g of water by 1°C. 1 Cal (large cal, or kcal) is the energy needed to increase by 1°C the temperature of 1kg of water. Anyway, the SI unit for energy is the Joule (J) so that is what should really be used.
    – nico
    Mar 7, 2012 at 21:02

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