The Benefits of Sexercise

Disappointed that you don't have time to both spend at the gym and in bed with your sweetie? That's not to say that you can't occasionally use sex as a form of exercise, says Cathie Helfand, MS, a marriage and sex therapist. "Using sex as a workout from time to time can help trim the body," she explains. "In fact, sexercise involves really burning calories and working the different muscle groups as opposed to a more passive sexual experience."

Be aware, however, that concentrating on the "fitness" aspect of sex could have an adverse affect. "If women have really overdeveloped abs, it can actually be detrimental to sex," says Sara Nasserzadeh, Ph.D., psychosexual therapist and couples counselor. "That said, I recommend developing the pelvic muscles. You'll have better sex because you can feel the sensations better and because the contractions are stronger at orgasm."

The most important thing to do with your abs before sex is to relax them, says Charla Hathaway, intimacy educator, coach and author of Erotic Massage: Sensual Touch for Deep Pleasure and Extended Arousal. "I am a big advocate of relaxing your body," she says. "A relaxed body can feel more sensation than a tight one, so don't think so much about exercising those abs. You want to open the pelvis to more sensation, and if you are trying to tone your abs at the same time, all that is a pulling in that is not good for sexual or orgasmic breathing."

Women tend to be overly concerned about what their tummies look like to their partner during sex, according to Hathaway.  Make a conscious effort to put thoughts of body image out of your mind, she advises. "If you are concerned that your tummy looks big, lie on your back," she says. And focus on pleasure, both yours and your partner's. That abs workout may be better saved for the gym.

Sex is a great form of exercise considering the average person burns almost 400 calories for an hour of intercourse. So it would seem reasonable to assume that engaging in sex would tone and define specific body parts. However, sculpting your abs and enjoying great sex aren't necessarily linked, according to sex therapists.

There is one body part that you should concentrate on toning if you want to increase sexual pleasure, however.

"The vagina is like a muscle, and it's either use it or lose it," says Hathaway. "And the more that you can exercise the vagina, through exercise, yoga or even masturbation, the better toned it will be and the better sex will be."