Bedroom Olympics may be key to fitness and weight loss.
By Denise Mann>
Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD
Many newly engaged women drop weight without even trying from the stress and anxiety of planning a wedding and in some ways, New York City-based model and actress Kerry McCloskey was no exception. She lost 23 pounds in the six months after she got engaged, but it wasn't from stress. It was from sex -- lots of it!
"It was during a particular time of romance and passion after I got engaged and I saw the effects that increased sex had on my body," she tells WebMD. This epiphany led to more research and her new book called the Ultimate Sex Diet. "I felt better immediately," McCloskey says, "because sex is a mood enhancer; the more you have it, the more endorphins that are released." Endorphins are the brain's feel-good chemicals.
The Desperate Housewives Diet?
According to McCloskey and a growing body of research, we can all learn something from the wanton women of Wisteria Lane on ABC's hit comedy Desperate Housewives who bed-hop in and out of their marriages and all have rather exceptional figures.
"It begins with thinking sexy thoughts and making sex a priority," she says of her sex diet. "I recommend having sex three to five times per week, which can be accomplished by doubling up on the weekends," McCloskey says. On average, sex burns 150 to 250 calories per half hour. "Since it's free and so much fun, I've found making love is the ultimate exercise machine."
More than just sex, McCloskey also suggests toning exercises including the "Elvis Pelvis" to help readers and their partners think sexy. To do this move, stand naked facing your partner and press your pelvises together for balance. Raise your arms to the ceiling and lean back while maintaining pelvic contact. Hold for three seconds, repeat five times.
No doubt about it, "sex is good exercise," says Laura Berman, PhD, LCSW, a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics-gynecology and psychiatry at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University in Chicago, and director of the Berman Center. "It gets your heart rate up even if you are not having extremely acrobatic sex," she tells WebMD.
Mix It Up
"Sex is a form of exercise especially if you incorporate different positions," she says. "If you move around a little bit and flex your muscles, it can be a very good exercise," she says.
Recent research shows that exercise in short bursts over the course of the day can be as effective as 30 to 40 minutes in a row. "You could use sex as 15 to 20 minutes of your exercise routine and then do something else at a different point of the day."
Another perk: "Sex is the kind of exercise that most people don't find boring," Berman says.
"Getting to the point where you are highly aroused and reaching orgasm can be good cardiovascular activity," she says. "That's why we tell people in poor cardiovascular health to avoid sex," she says.
Healthy Sex Cuts Frustration, Stress
Howard Shapiro, MD, a New York City weight-loss specialist and author of books including the forthcoming Picture Perfect Prescription, puts it this way: "If someone has a healthy sex life, they will be less frustrated and people eat less when they are not frustrated," he says.
People also eat more when they are lonely, and often people involved in loving sexual relationships are not lonely, he tells WebMD. "A healthy sex life decreases stress and some people turn to food when they under stress."
Shapiro routinely tells his clients that falling in love and out of love are the two best diets out there. "There is much more than sex involved in weight loss," he says -- namely eating a healthy low-calorie diet.
"If someone is involved in a relationship and has a healthy sex life, that's great," he cautions. "But if someone is out there having a lot of sex with a lot of people, it may create stress," he says. This type of promiscuity can also increases risk of sexually transmitted disease.
Published Feb. 7, 2005.
SOURCES: Kerry McCloskey, model and actress; and author, Ultimate Sex Diet. Laura Berman, PhD, LCSW, clinical assistant professor, obstetrics-gynecology and psychiatry, Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University, Chicago; and director, Berman Center, Chicago. Howard Shapiro, MD, weight loss specialist, New York City; and author Picture Perfect Prescription.