Sex Makes You Fat (or, at least, it doesn’t make you thin)

Thumbs up!  Thumbs up!  Thumbs up!  Now switch!

Sometimes, instead of jazz hands, I would make them give the thumbs up.

Included in a number of odd jobs I held while attending college, I once worked as an instructor teaching “Cardio for Beginners.” My routine mostly involved a lot of light jogging in place with some random arm/hand/leg movement thrown in. Depending on the limb involved, this could be “Jazz Hands” or “Jimmy Legs”*.   I would shout out encouragement to the beat of the music: “Keep it going!  Keep it going! Keep it going!  Now switch!” and “You got it!  You got it!  You got it!  Now switch!”  You get the idea.  Lots of switching.  Sometimes I would mix it up and say, “Now the other side!”  but, depending on the routine, that could be too many syllables, and would mess with the rhythm.

Even though I was only twenty and exceedingly stupid at the time, the (usually older) women in my class looked at me as an authority on all things relating to fitness and nutrition.  At first, I greeted their questions with a WTF? and a blank stare but eventually I grew into the role and would spout with great conviction sentences like: Water is best for hydration.  Eat protein for building muscle mass.  Eat carbs to power your workout. If you’re buying new sneakers, crosstrainers are a good choice for both aerobics and weight training.

Yada, yada, yada.*

Once, a chubby woman slightly older than me lingered after class to ask what she could do to “burn more fat.”  I was about to say, “Strength training is an excellent complement to a cardiovascular work out” when she added, “My husband says that sex is good exercise.”

Just then, I dropped my water bottle on the hard gymnasium floor and together we watched it roll slowly toward the wrestling mats leaning against the wall.  When I looked up again, she was still there, waiting for my response.

“Well, um, er, yeah, I guess it is.  As long as you’re not chowing down on a cheesesteak afterwards.” She flushed red, and made a quick exit and eventually I realized my attempt at a stupid joke (Haha! Who would eat a cheesesteak after sex? How crazy is that?) sounded like I thought she was the sort of person who would eat a cheesesteak immediately after sex.

I burned 26 calories writing this post.

Some ten odd years later, along comes this article published in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, “Myths, Presumptions and Facts About Obesity” to inform me, my chubby student, and her grousing husband, that sex is not a very good exercise, and only burns about 3.5 calories per minute, about the same as walking.  To put that in perspective, I used to clock myself with a running speed of 6mph, a not-particularly-fast rate which burns about 10 calories per minute.  That Beginner’s Cardio class I taught?  We were burning 6-8 calories a minute.  You can check calorie burn rates for various activities here.

So all you people out there who have been using the excuse of it being “good exercise” to entice your partners to have sex with you are going to have to stop now.   You’ll have to make up think of some other reason.

But seriously, how awful are you at sex that the best argument you can come up for it is that it’s “good exercise”?  It’s like your mother telling you to eat your spinach.

Wow, I just managed to bring together sex, your mother, and spinach all in one sentence.  I may never want to have sex again.

*I still miss Seinfeld.

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15 thoughts on “Sex Makes You Fat (or, at least, it doesn’t make you thin)

  1. Joyce says:

    I just heard a news story that I believe referred to the same article. Said you only burn about 21 calories per session. Hey, maybe it’s better for strength training?

    Do you ever wonder exacty how they conduct these studies?


    • Karen says:

      Yes! The average, um, sexual interaction lasts only 6 minutes, so that works out to be 21 calories!

      No, mostly I just wonder about the sex part, not so much the studying part (just like college).



  2. theimaginator says:

    I think that people get confused between calories burned and the increase in heart rate; I wonder how much calories are burned by masticating?


    • Karen says:

      I once read that you burn more calories chewing, I mean, masticating, celery than you receive from eating the celery to begin with. One more reason to hate celery.


  3. Pucker Up Buttercup says:

    Did the New England Journal of Medicine article mention the fact that solitary sex can also cause chronic masturbursitis? Now I can’t even burn off those 1.75 calories per minute until I get more skilled at going lefty!


    • Karen says:

      And yes, you’re scaring me. And I’m pretty sure you’re not going to get any sex at all with that weight lifting move in the bedroom.

      And, um, also, it’s really creepy to mention to a girl that you’re familiar with the film (or the novel) American Psycho.



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