Is Sex a Workout?

by Lucy

on Oct 3, 2022

71% of Americans believe sex is a workout and are tracking their heart rate and calories burned while getting it on.

What if we told you that you could skip that morning run you hate so much and enjoy a private workout at home in the bedroom instead?

According to our survey, 71% of Americans count sex as a workout, and plenty of us are tracking our heart rates and calories burned just as we would for a HIIT class or weight-lifting session. It’s called being sexually active for a reason, right?

To find out how many Americans count the time spent in between the sheets as exercise, we surveyed more than 2,000 adults about whether they consider sex to be a workout as well as how often they track their calories burned and heart rate levels during the act, and which positions in particular are workout worthy.

We also spoke to certified sex educator certified sex educator Javay Frye-Nekrasova (MEd) for some tips on how to make three popular sex positions less demanding on our bodies.

Does sex count as a workout?

Of course, there’s no question that having anal sex, oral sex or vaginal sex gets our hearts racing, but does it raise our pulses enough for us to justify skipping a gym sesh? 71% of the 2,000-plus Americans we surveyed think so.

Interestingly, whether we count sex as a workout or not varies slightly depending on gender, with 73% of men answering yes compared with 70% of women.

Sexual orientation and gender identity also play a role in whether sex counts as exercise, with our survey revealing that 92% of lesbians and 83% of bisexual people see sex as a workout, compared with 40% of asexual people and 67% of heterosexual people.

What are the sex workout hotspots of the US?

While it was pretty unanimous between genders that people believe sex, whether it be vanilla or mixed up with a dildo or clit vibrator, is a workout when it comes to location - there are some cities more inclined to say yes than others.

We discovered that those living in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City are the most likely to believe sex is a workout, with 83% and 82% saying yes, respectively. This was closely followed by those living in Charlotte (80%) and those living in Milwaukee (79%).

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However, on the other end of the spectrum, only 53% of San Diego residents said they believe that sex is a workout, followed by 56% of those living in Charleston and Seattle.

How many Americans track calories and heart rate during sex?

Now that we know how many of us count sex as part of our workout regimes, how many of us go as far as tracking our calories burned and heart rates? After all, we all want to close the rings on our fitness watches!

Our survey group revealed that one in ten Americans (10%) track how many calories they burn every time they have sex. 11% have admitted to doing it regularly, and 12% said they sometimes do.

Men are twice as likely to monitor these stats regularly than women, with 16% of men admitting to regular tracking compared to just 8% of women.

With smartwatches now more common than ever, it’s easy to record some of the different ways our bodies respond to arousal - and tracking how our heart rates change at different points during sex can give us some really interesting insights into our sex lives.

Our survey reveals that we’re generally slightly more open to tracking our heart rates than our calories burned, with 11% of people saying they track their heart rates every time they have sex, 12% saying they do it regularly, and 15% admitting that they sometimes do.

Which sex positions are the most physically challenging?

When it comes to keeping healthy, any form of physical activity is a good thing - and sex is no exception. With one in ten (10%) Americans admitting to tracking their calorie burn every time they have sex, we were curious to know which positions are deemed the most physically demanding.

Overall for both men and women, doggy has been named the most challenging sex position, with 28% of all of our survey respondents and 34% of males giving this response. However, for women, reverse cowgirl comes out on top as the most demanding position.


What do SEXperts think about these challenging sex positions?

With so many of us admitting to finding these popular positions challenging, we were keen to find out if there’s any way we can make them easier on our bodies.

Javay Frye-Nekrasova gave us her top tips for getting more enjoyment out of some of our favourite positions.

“For reverse cowgirl, you are going to want to be sure to stretch beforehand. If your legs aren't used to being in the squatting position for extended amounts of time, stetching is the best way to minimize the chances of a charlie horse. If you know you are going to want to do reverse cowgirl more often, adding some leg workouts into your regimen would be a good idea.

“For standing up, don't be afraid to use additional support. If you are standing up against a wall, you can add a pillow for comfort. You can be standing and use a table or chair for added support.

“For doggy, strengthening your wrists is a good idea if you are going to be holding up your body for an extended amount of time. You can also add sex position pillows for added comfort and stability in doggy style. You can stretch before doggy style by doing the balasana (child's pose) yoga position.”

What are the health benefits of having sex?

Lower blood pressure, improved heart health, and stronger muscles are a few of the physical side effects of an active sex life, but did you know that sex can contribute to our mental wellness too? We discussed the mental health benefits of having sex with Javay Frye-Nekrasova .

“The good or happy hormones that are released during sexual activity are one of the psychological benefits of sex. Endorphins and oxytocin are released, which can help you to be more relaxed. Other psychological benefits include stress relief, strengthening of the immune system, and a better night's sleep.”


Data was taken from a survey we conducted in September 2022 of 2,016 US residents over the age of 18.

Expert commentary:

Javay Frye-Nekrasova, MEd


Written by Lucy. Lovehoney Editorial Team
If you think that an exciting sex life starts and ends with Missionary then Lucy, who has worked at Lovehoney for over a decade, is here to enlighten you with her ever-popular ‘Position of the Week’ blogs.
Lucy also loves making the world of sex and sex toys easy to learn about, and you'll often find her with her head in a book researching her latest A to Z guide

Originally published on Oct 3, 2022. Updated on Oct 4, 2022