Sex Does Great Things For Your Body

There’s so much to love about sex: the romance, the lust, the dirty talk, the ability to take on or cast off identities at your whimsy. But sex can also be a rewarding experience because of what it does to your body – and not just in the goosebump- or orgasm-inducing ways.

Sex can be a terrific workout and it can also inspire people to get or stay in good shape. Sure, sex doesn’t typically burn as many calories as one might burn on the elliptical, but frenzied sex certainly burns more calories than sitting on the sofa watching Glee. And while sex isn’t likely to help you gain a great deal of lean muscle mass, you may find that certain acrobatic positions (the Wheelbarrow, anyone?) helps to pump up your arm muscles in ways you didn’t previously think sex was capable of.

Even slow sex can help people to stretch, to expand their body and their breath and to become an inch or two more flexible in various ways. Plus, sex gives us goals to reach! If you’ve ever sat in yoga class and wondered why anyone would ever care to stretch their legs over their head in an inverted plow position, you have probably never had to ask yourself “why?” if you’ve tried a similar maneuver during sex. All you need to know in sex is that it feels good, it’s fun and it lets you and your partner find out what your bodies are capable of together.

Sex also inspires us to get in touch with our bodies and to keep them healthy. We have the opportunity to learn to appreciate our own body and that of our partner for everything that it can do and be, whatever shape or size it may come in. Having sex in front of a mirror can help us to re-imagine our bodies and to indulge in their beauty. The desire to stay sexually active as we age can also inspire us to stay fit and flexible through exercise and stretching. Sex helps us to live more active, healthy lives – it motivates us, excites us and gives us the chance to experience our bodies in positive, self-affirming, phenomenal kinds of ways.

Being naked together also gives us the chance to know each other’s bodies in private ways – to become familiar with, even to memorize, a partner’s freckles, birth marks or dimples. Whether we stay with our partner or eventually go our separate ways, those are the parts that we – and few others, most likely – will know by heart.

Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH is a sex researcher and educator at Indiana University, the sex columnist at Time Out Chicago and author of Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.

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About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.