According to the “sex is a good cardio workout” myth, hookers should be in excellent cardiovascular condition!

Though there’s a strong association between how FIT a person is and how active their monogamous sex life is, you cannot deduce from this that sex is a good cardio workout.

A personal trainer wrote on a fitness site that sex has many of the same effects on the body as an intense workout.

As a former personal trainer, I never told my clients to have more sex to get in their “intense” cardio workouts.

Instead I told them to briskly walk or jog up hills, dash up staircases, sprint across parking lots, take step classes and employ high intensity interval training on cardio equipment.

“During sex, your heart races,” says the article. So what. During an anxiety attack, the heart races, too.

Anticipating a long-awaited trip to Paris will speed up the heart rate. Smoking elevates heart rate.

So you see, the “sex increases heart rate” argument for sex as an effective form of aerobic exercise sinks like a brick in water.

Sex burns about five calories per minute. So what. This doesn’t qualify it as a good cardiovascular workout.

Harvard’s Men’s Health Watch Gives the Truth

A study monitored subjects as they walked on a treadmill in a lab and during private home sexual activity.

 The participants were 13 women and 19 men.

 Three-fourths of the men were married.

 About 70 percent of them had cardiovascular disease.

 53 percent were on beta blocker drugs.

 The men reported engaging in regular exercise and having sex about six times a month.

Heart rate and blood pressure during the treadmill walking and sexual intercourse were monitored. And lo and behold, the treadmill walking proved more intense.

• During sex, heart rate increased only 72 percent as much as it did during the walking.

• Average blood pressure during sex was 80 percent as much during maximal treadmill activity.

• Subjective intensity rating for treadmill exercise was 4.6 (1 to 5 scale) and for sex was 2.7.

• These values were even more damning for women.

• During sex, men’s heart rate rarely exceeded 130 bpm, and systolic blood pressure rarely topped 170.

• Sex was assigned a metabolic equivalent (MET) score of 3.5, which equates it—in terms of intensity—to raking leaves or playing ping pong.

• Sure, raking leaves and playing ping pong beat sitting on a sofa watching TV, but watching TV is a pretty low standard for comparison, don’t you think?

One might argue that because some men have had heart attacks during sex, this makes sex a great form of cardio exercise.

By this logic, you can say that watching TV is also a great form of cardio exercise because many men (and women) suffer heart attacks while viewing their favorite show.

Nevertheless, it’s exceedingly rare for anyone to suffer a heart attack during sex, and this data shouldn’t even be considered in any argument.

The Massachusetts Male Aging Study found a link between frequency of sex in men and likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease: The more sex, the less likely.

This link, though, could not be explained by conventional cardiac risk factors, which leaves open the possibility that it can be explained as follows:

Fit and healthy men (who’d be less likely to develop cardiovascular disease) tend to have sex more often than do out of shape men.

Who’s more likely to have frequent sex: an energetic man with an attractively fit physique?

Or a paunchy man who tires easily and falls asleep nearly every night in front of the TV?

Men who have sex only occasionally may also have bad health habits that, while damaging their heart, preclude more sexual activity, such as drug abuse, heavy drinking or diseases that impair libido. Diabetes and heart disease can also cause erectile dysfunction.

Sex, then, should not be deemed an effective cardio workout. This is just nonsensical.

Ask yourself how long the average hooker—adjusting for smoking and substance use—would last walking briskly on a treadmill at 3 mph with a five percent incline AND without holding onto the machine.

Come on, stop kidding yourself. Saying that sex provides an effective cardio workout is akin to saying that housework provides a good strength training workout.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
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