Monday, the 29 September, is World Heart Day. This year the focus of the World Heart Federation’s campaign is prevention and the emphasis is on finding easy ways to incorporate exercise into daily life. They advocate walking to work, taking the stairs – all the usual stuff – but what about sex? They don’t call it horizontal jogging for nothing you know.
1. In a study by Frappier et al, (2013) men burned an average of 101 calories and women burned an average of 69 calories in twenty four minutes of sexual activity.
2. The study also measured the energy cost, or intensity of sexual activity. The mean intensity during sex was 6.0 METS in men and 5.6 METS in women. This means that the level of intensity that is exerted from sexual activity is higher than that of walking at 4.8 km per hour, but lower to that of jogging at 8 km per hour.
3. It’s a hell of a lot more fun though. All the participants in Frappier’s study reported that the sexual exercise was more enjoyable than the comparative treadmill exercise that they had to undertake.
4. Sex has massive health benefits too. For example, sexual arousal, especially if orgasmic, has been reported to relieve chronic pain, particularly in the back, and to increase the threshold of pain in women (Komisaruk & Whipple, 1995).
5. Although most women need clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm, penetrative sex protects women from vaginal atropy (Leiblum et al.,1983)
6. People who have had heart attacks are often very nervous about resuming sexual activity. Sex does raise blood pressure, but only by a small amount and only very briefly (Chen et al, 2009), so doctors suggest that anyone who is capable of climbing two flights of stairs is fit enough to have sex.
7. Casual sex, or infidelity, causes a greater degree of cardiac stress. In autopsy reports of 5,559 cases of sudden death, 0.6 percent occurred during sexual intercourse. Of those who died, roughly 90 percent were men and 75 percent of them were having extramarital sex (Levine, 2012).
8. Men who have heart conditions are often advised to avoid missionary, or man on top positions, however research by Nemec et al.(1976) suggests that there is no reason for men to limit themselves in this way. In his study, the mean maximal heart rate for man on top positions at orgasm was 114 beats per minute compared to 117 beats per minute at orgasm for man on the bottom positions. Mean blood pressure at orgasm was 163/81 for man on top and 161/77 for man on the bottom.
9. Regular sex is also associated with lower male mortality. When researchers tracked a thousand men aged 45-59 from the Welsh town of Caerphilly over a ten year period, they found that mortality risk in the group with the high orgasmic frequency was 50% lower than in the group with the lower orgasmic frequency (Smith et al., 1997).
10. Sex makes couples closer too. Mah and Binik (2002) found an increase in emotional intimacy after coital orgasm. Emotional intimacy decreases stress, which probably explains why, compared to their married counterparts, unmarried men and women experience higher death rates from all causes (Berkson, 1962).