When it comes to breaking a sweat, a bit of fooling around is probably the most enjoyable way to do it. Plus, if you’re getting it on several times a week (or a day!), you can totally count it as a workout, right? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves; the science is mixed on the matter of sexual gains.
According to one study, 25 minutes of sex could burn over 100 calories for men, but just 69 for women. Compare that to 30 minutes of light running, during which women burned an average of 213 calories and men burned 276, according to the study’s results. Translation? If you’re looking to slim down, you might not want to give up the treadmill quite yet. These calorie-busting exercises can work wonders for your waistline, too.
And the news only gets worse from there. A report published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that men burned just 21 calories during six minutes of sex—which is typically how long sex lasts for the average couple. Women weren’t included in this study.
In general, women can multiply the amount of time they spend having sex by 3.1 to determine how many calories they’ve burned, study author Antony Karelis, a professor of human kinetics at the University of Montreal, said. And men tend to burn a bit more calories than women, on average. Here’s why: “Men weigh more than women, and because of this, the energy expenditure will be higher in men for the same exercise performed,” Karelis told TIME. Plus, men may also be more physically active during sex.
Not impressed by the numbers? Thankfully, there are a few ways to inch up the calorie count. Adding some moans and sighs can burn an extra 18 to 30 calories, according to Jaiya Kinzbach, a Los Angeles–based sexologist and the author of Red Hot Touch. Changing up your position could also add a solid workout to your bedroom activities, especially for women.
“If you are on top, try moving your hips like a belly dancer; this feels great and will give you a workout,” she told Woman’s Day. “Also try a position where you squat on top of him and then bounce up and down. This is a great workout for your thighs and butt, and it can burn up to 207 calories in 30 minutes.”
But even if you probably can’t count on sex to reach your weight loss goals, it still has lots of health benefits. Having sex regularly has been shown to help your body fight disease, improve your mental health and mood, and even make you look younger. Plus, thanks to a boost in the relaxing, feel-good chemical called serotonin in your body, sex will also help you get a solid night’s sleep.
That’s reason enough to get busy on the regular. And if you’re feeling guilty for skipping a workout, just hit the gym afterward! We won’t tell.