How does sex affect heart rate?
Many studies have assessed heart rate during sex, and the results vary widely. The average heart rate is between 90 and 130 beats per minute. Peak heart rate is 145-170 beats per minute.
In studies of men and women, men had higher average heart rates than women. Some studies also consider sexual positions; However, the results were inconsistent. Some noted that men's heart rates were higher when they were at the top (relative to their partners), but others found the opposite pattern.
What are the physical needs of sex?
Another thing the authors looked at was the "kinematics" of sex, which is the extent to which sex exerts stress or force on various parts of the body. Only three studies looked at different positions, but the missionary position (for both men and women) and the lateral decubitus position (for men only) put the most pressure on the lower back (lumbar spine).
There are also three positions that put more pressure on the rotator cuff (shoulders). Here are (from smallest to largest):
Scorpions (Imagine the position of a unicycle)
Superman (visually a bit like a dog standing position. One man holds his partner up in the air with his arms on their hips. It is called superman for several reasons. Yes, it's a power test! The other is that the person suspended in the air might spread out his arms and look like Superman flying in the sky.)
Understanding kinematics can help us determine which positions might be safer or more dangerous for a person based on existing injuries and abilities.
According to the authors, for most people, sex can be classified as "moderate physical activity," similar to the intensity required for light jogging, rowing, or swimming.
Sex gets our heart rates up and, on average, seems to burn about 100 calories. However, the position people try, the intensity of sex, and the duration of activity can all change energy expenditure.
More research is needed on women and people of different genders and sexual orientations. In addition to penile-vaginal intercourse, we also need to record the energy demands of sexual activity. So if you're looking for a research idea, there's plenty to learn from!