Sex isn’t only a pleasurable experience, with some reports claiming the act also has health benefits that can be compared to those of exercise.
In fact, the physiological response to sex is similar to that of exercise. Landmark studies in the 1960s showed people having sex had an increase in their respiratory rate, heart rate and blood pressure.
These are all signs the body is working at an elevated rate, similar to that experienced during exercise.
More recently, these findings have been replicated by a number of researchers using less obtrusive, miniaturised and wireless equipment, enabling more realistic results. Watch the most outrageous sex confessions. (Post continues after video.)
Again, they found a significant increase in markers of physiological stress, such as heart rate and blood pressure. Comparing this to what happens during exercise, they showed sexual activity elicits a moderate level of physical stress – up to 75 per cent of maximal exercise.
But they also noticed these physiological stress levels were intermittent. Much of the average time of sexual activity recorded (33 minutes) was spent at lower stress levels.
A more recent study of young Canadian heterosexual couples showed a bout of sexual activity was akin to moderate physical activity (such as brisk walking) when energy expenditure was measured.
Sex is kind of like exercise.
So sex is exercise? Well yes and no. It depends on your definition of exercise. If you compare the two purely by the physiological change that occurs then yes, because sex elicits a change in human physiology akin to exercise.
But if you believe exercise should change human physiology for the better, in the long term, then perhaps no. This is because, for most of us, sex isn’t sustained long enough nor occurs frequently enough for a true physiological change to happen in the long term.
Also, we haven’t really explored the other benefits of exercise and contrasted them with sex. For instance, muscular health is recognised as a major component of a person’s health. (Post continues after gallery.)
We know lots about gaining muscular health through resistance training and other exercises. But does sex give enough of a workout to change muscular health? Well … I sense a research project in the pipeline.