Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Q & A: Does regular sex keep you slim?

Does regular sex keep you slim?

As fairly vigorous sex burns up about 7 calories a minute (for the man in the classic missionary position that is), you would think that regular sex would keep you slim.

However! Research shows that the average sex sessions lasts a fairly pathetic four minutes and would burn up only 28 calories - enough to burn off half an apple or one Ryvita. Should you definitely NOT be a four-minute man, and should you enjoy sex on a very regular basis, you could burn up a fair amount of calories in the process. Men tend to use up more calories having sex than women do, as women are often a lazy lot (or too exhausted after a day running the world and then doing the cooking, cleaning and child-minding) and tend to prefer the 'lie here and enjoy it' position most of the time, while men do all the hard work.

So let us assume that you have sex four times a week at 30 minutes a time (let's be generous!). Two hours of sex at 7 calories a minute (on average) comes to 840 calories burnt per week. That is about equivalent to a hungry male's evening meal, or four pints of beer, or a takeaway pizza.

So as long as you don't send out for the pizza after the sex, I suppose you could lose about 1lb a month (or not put ON 1lb a month) in weight with two hour's sex a week.

Is there any fat-burning exercise class that isn't aimed primarily at women?

A recent survey of exercise classes found that you are most likely to meet fellow males at boxercise classes (circuit training with boxing moves) or Ashtanga yoga classes. Boxercise is no surprise, although apparently 40% of devotees are female.
You may be amazed to learn that you can burn fat through yoga, but ashtanga is fast and furious and quite hard.

Is there a male menopause and if so is it the cause of my weight gain? I am 55.

Yes, it seems that there is a male menopause which could indeed have various side-effects including weight gain. Although the major symptom of the female menopause - loss of periods - is obviously not a factor for men, there is, according to studies presented at the British Endocrine Societies conference in 2001, a decrease in levels of the male hormone testosterone in midlife males.

Levels start to decline at a similar age to the female menopause - around 50 - and reduced testosterone can cause not only weight gain, loss of muscle mass and loss of energy, but also depression, mood swings, lowered sex drive, memory loss and irritability.

The explanation from one of the partner universities conducting the latest research is that low levels of testosterone seem to reduce the blood supply to the brain, which means, basically, a general shutdown or slowing of the metabolism - in other words, the factory that is the male brain is on go-slow and the menopausal symptoms described are a natural result of that.

As with women, menopausal symptoms vary from man to man and may be slight or severe. If you feel this may be your problem, do see your doctor. Work is underway in developing a male testosterone-replacement HRT. Such HRT for males may also include the female hormone oestrogen, which has been found to protect men against osteoporosis and may also protect them against mental decline and memory loss.

In the meantime, a programme of sensible eating and increasing the amount of both aerobic and resistance exercise that you do will help to minimise the symptoms. For although declining hormones can promote weight gain, that doesn't mean the situation isn't containable with a healthy lifestyle - as many post-menopausal women will confirm.

Staying in shape as you get older becomes harder, but is by no means impossible. The bonus is that with healthy diet and by taking more exercise you are also giving yourself natural protection against the diseases and infirmities of old age.

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