My grandparents always told me the key to a good, long life was eating bagels (I know, weird, but they both lived way into their 90s). However, maybe that’s just the sort of thing you say to your grandkid, because as it turns out, what actually keeps you living longer and better is more adult-oriented. According to a recent Dutch study, continued sexual activity as we age is like a magical youth serum that keeps you sharp, healthy and looking great.
The study was inspired by the results of a simple questionnaire that was sent out to people between the ages of 58 and 98 across the United Kingdom. It was meant to get a sense of the average level of sexual activity within this age group. They received responses from 7,000 people, and of that number, less than three percent declined to answer personal questions about their sexual activity.
Dr. David Lee, an Age UK Research Fellow at The University of Manchester and lead author of the paper which corresponds to this study, was particularly thrilled to be getting data from people over the age of 80. He told Science Daily, “This is the first nationally-representative study to include people over the age of 80 when asking older men and women in England about their sexual health.”
The findings of this initial study were pretty encouraging. Fifty-four percent of men and 31 percent of women over the age of 70 said they were still sexually active in the survey, and one-third of that group said they still had frequent sex (which the study averaged to be around twice a month). This sparked the Dutch study which was conducted by the Altrecht Mental Health Center, and focused more on unearthing the possible health benefits for these more sexually active seniors.
The Dutch researchers tested a group of 1,700 Dutch seniors (again, between the ages of 58 to 98) by first giving them a survey similar to the one from Manchester University — after all, they had to make sure their subjects were appropriately sexually active. Then they ran a series of mental tests on them to see how well their brains functioned. Sure enough they found that those who said they were satisfied with their sex life had better cognitive function than those who didn’t. That correlation was particularly strong among the women in the study, for which researches don’t yet have a reason.
The point of all this is that generally, people assume sex slows down and/or stops when you get into your senior years, but that is a dangerous notion to spread because it can have such a positive effect on the older generations. The power of social suggestion may in turn have a negative impact on our seniors’ health and well-being later in life. Just so you have an idea of how great that impact could be, here’s a list of all the benefits of regular sex on which they could be missing out due to ageist stereotyping.
1. You can look younger
According to a study conducted by Dr. Weeks at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, regular sex can make you look up to seven years younger. Sounds a heck of a lot more fun than monthly Botox appointments! The endorphins that are released when you have sex are essentially miracle workers — they ease pain, reduce anxiety and even help cell generation, which makes your skin look rejuvenated.
2. Your heart will stay healthier
This one’s a big deal for both men and women. According to Dr. Weeks, “In a Welsh heart disease study from 1997, the mortality risk was 50 per cent lower in the group of men with high orgasmic frequency (twice a week or more) than in the group with low frequency.” Sex in its best form is really good cardio, and exercise of that nature is great for your heart.
3. You’ll look (and feel) gorgeous
Yes, regular sex will help you to look younger, but it will also make you look hotter. Sex coach Amy Levine, says sex helps keep the toxins flowing out of our body, because we’re regularly breaking a sweat. She told Huffington Post that, “this translates to our skin’s radiance and being more at ease with facial expression. Ultimately, giving a post-sex glow and possibly helping to ward off wrinkles.” It also leads to clearer, less dry skin (again, the magic powers of sweating).
4. Your body will ward off illness better
Sexologist Dr. Jess says people who have regular sex tend to have higher levels of immunoglobulin A, which is a natural antibody that keeps common colds and flus at bay. Plus it tastes a lot better than Echinacea.
5. It’s a natural painkiller
I may write an epic poem about the benefits of oxytocin. Not only does it make you feel great post coital (in fact, it’s often referred to as the “love hormone”), it can also relieve pain at high levels — like say, after orgasm, according to John W. Beiter, Ph.D., CST, Licensed Psychologist and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist. Ever notice if you had a headache before sex, it’s suddenly gone afterward? Yep, the wonders of oxytocin.
6. Sex helps you live longer
All of the above combined, plus the new research about sex improving brain functionality, naturally leads to a longer life. Regular sex makes you healthier, happier and overall more connected to your body, your brain and your emotional center. So the moral is, everyone should be having more sex because it’s just so good for you. Think of it like a really fun multivitamin.