Most people think adopting a healthy lifestyle means too much sweating and not enough sweets. But making love is one self-indulgent temptation you shouldn’t resist. As long as you practice safe sex, increasing this physical activity is the most enticing way to revitalize your health. Multiple studies claim an active sex life can elevate your mood and improve a variety of medical conditions while also extending your life.
Regular sex releases estrogen and testosterone hormones, which can increase vitality and make you look younger. Estrogen nurtures soft skin and shiny hair. Sexual activity, comparable to a modest treadmill session, can burn 85 to 250 calories while sculpting your abdominal, back, butt and thigh muscles.
Research confirms you can turn back the clock with sex. A panel viewed study participants through a one-way mirror and guessed their ages. Based on appearances, the panel deemed people who enjoyed sex an average of four times a week with a steady partner to be seven to 12 years younger than their actual ages.
Sex can take your mind off everything else — especially stress. The endorphins and oxytocin, or the love hormone, you release during sex activate your brain’s pleasure centers and create intimate, relaxing, calming and comfortable feelings. They also decrease anxiety and depression. You don’t have to climax to experience these delightful benefits, but an orgasm stimulates greater surges of these soothing hormones.
A study showed middle-aged women enjoyed a better mood and less stress the day after having sex. Another study revealed people who made love at least once every two weeks managed stressful situations better.
The endorphins that help you de-stress also encourage your mind and body to relax. During orgasm, you release the prolactin hormone that increases relaxation and causes sleepiness. Don’t be surprised if this regulating combination persuades you to doze off after sex. But a highly active lovemaking session can make you feel more energized than drowsy. So whenever you want sex to be a sleep aid, make your session tamer.
Strengthen Immune System
You can ward off colds and flu by having sex. Researchers at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania found that immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibody levels were higher in people who made love once or twice a week than in those whose frequency was less often. This automatic immune response defends your body against germs, viruses and diseases. People who have sex frequently take fewer sick days.
Lower Blood Pressure
Research suggests a link exists between sex and lower blood pressure. One landmark study found that intercourse, not masturbation, lowered systolic blood pressure.
Decrease Heart Disease Risk
Sex is a good cardio workout that raises your heart rate. A study concluded a man who made love at least twice a week was 45 percent less likely to develop heart disease than those whose frequency was once a month or less. Another study found men who had sex at least two times per week were half as likely to die from heart disease as those who made love rarely.
The endorphins you release during an orgasm are effective pain relievers because they resemble morphine. One study found sexual activity brought some migraine and cluster-headache patients partial or complete headache relief. A study at the Southern Illinois University Headache Clinic found half of female migraine sufferers reported their pain eased after climaxing whether with a partner or while masturbating. Another study showed vaginal stimulation without orgasm can block chronic back and leg pain. Women reported self-stimulation also reduced menstrual cramps, arthritic pain and sometimes headaches.
Diminish Menstrual Symptoms
Having sex during menstruation can shorten your period, reduce your cramps and decrease your risk of endometriosis. If you abstain while on your period because lovemaking is messy, try reclining in a missionary position on a dark-colored towel. During orgasm, uterine contractions can help expel blood and tissue faster while ridding your body of cramp-causing compounds.
Improve Female Bladder Control
Sex is a great workout for your pelvic floor muscles because they contract and strengthen during orgasm. This can help you avoid incontinence; urine leakage affects about 30 percent of women as they age.
Lessen Prostate Cancer Risk
A study reported men who ejaculated often, at least 21 times per month, were less likely to get prostate cancer. But having a partner isn’t necessary. Nocturnal emissions and masturbation were as effective as sexual intercourse.
A 10-year study of 918 men between 45 and 59 found those who climaxed two or more times per week had 50 percent fewer instances of mortality than those whose sexual activity was low to none.
Begin Your Sexual Healing
Whether you choose a reversible birth control option like NuvaRing, condoms that protect against STDs or permanent sterilization, you’ll enjoy sex even more when it also renews your health, but the benefits don’t end there. Touching and hugging your partner releases your body’s natural feel-good hormones. Sexual arousal activates a brain chemical that revs up your pleasure and reward system. Because physical intimacy can boost your self-esteem and joy, it’s a prescription not just for a healthy life but a happy one as well.