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.
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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% 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.