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ISSUE 118 VOL 20 PUBLISHED 5/13/2005

Sexercise 101

By Jennifer Hancock
Staff Writer

Friday, May 13, 2005

My friend and I have a running joke that we will start an independent study gym class on sex next year. It will incorporate many important aspects of physical education from stretching to cardiovascular work. We will wittily call it ‘sexercise.’

Once, we got a bit carried away with the idea and joked that we could incorporate nutrition and wellness by introducing a unit on aphrodisiacs.

Our suggestions for what the final might entail - while humorous - are probably not appropriate to include in a school newspaper, but you can be sure that there would be a lab open for practice. Of course, there will be no sexercise class—but maybe there should be.

Sexual activity can provide the same workout as fitness walking, cycling, step aerobics or weight training. All the above activities – including sex - burn about 300 calories per hour and expend 4 metabolic energy equivalents (METS) according to Allina Health System officials. Doubles tennis, easy swimming, volleyball, and slow dancing all expend 4 METS too, but sexual activity engages more muscle groups.

Certain sexual positions require particular overall plasticity and kegels – the vaginal exercises specifically developed to increase the pleasurable and cardiovascular benefits of sexual activity – give a unique muscle tonnage that no other exercise can replicate.

So skip the head-to-head competition of sports and go head to head in the bedroom instead. You’ll save each others’ pride and avoid the bickering, but the sexual pursuits will still get your hearts pumping.

In fact, the American Heart Association says that during orgasm, the heart rate increases up to 145 beats per minute, with an average peak of 115 bpm. 115 bpm is about 60 percent of a 20 yr-old’s maximum heart rate and 145 bpm is about 70 percent of the maximum.

In an unrelated study, The American College of Sports Medicine for Weight Loss advises three to five 300-calorie workouts per week, each with a minimum intensity of 60 percent maximum heart rate.

An hour of vigorous sexual activity burns 300 calories and raises the heart rate to a minimum intensity of 60 percent of the maximum rate.

Many college students engage in sexual activity three to five times per week. Huh.

Perhaps these statistics are coincidental – and what a phenomenal coincidence to discover – or perhaps sex is meant to be a normal part of a healthy lifestyle – like eating, bathing, and sleeping.

This racy set of priorities is actually less radical than it may seem. The French – known for their sexual secularity – have had a knack for knocking boots since the nineteenth century.

Auguste Debay (1802-1890), author of the contemporary best-selling manual Hygiene and Philosophy of Marriage, advocates regular sexual exercise as a normal and necessary part of private hygiene and public health.

Debay says absolute repose of any one organ will destroy the perfect equilibrium of our organs and organic functions. “The genital act is, therefore, a necessity for man and for woman; its absolute privation can only be harmful to the physical and moral health of the individual,” Debay said.

I am not saying that we should center our lives around sexual activity and neither is Debay – although I am sure that there are those on campus who would gladly welcome that statement.

Debay said a married man of twenty to thirty years “may exercise his rights two to four times a week, leaving an interval of a day between times.” Debay also warned, “To exhaust oneself with coitus repeated five and six times a day, as many young people do, is to court trouble later on.”

Like everything else in life, sexual activity should be pursued in moderation in order to maintain balance and wellness.

But, if you feel emotionally and physically ready to engage in sexual sport - all factors of relationship stability and monogamy considered – then do not be afraid to embrace it actively.

Pursue it safely and reasonably, as you would any new activity – maintain moderation, like any exercise routine. And of course, like any workout session, remember to stretch and use protection. Maybe we’ll see you in a sexercise class next semester.

- The sex columnist may be contacted with any quesions or comments at

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