Our previous article had debunked the myth that sex is the domain of the young, sexy and beautiful. It is a basic human need for intimacy and love.
While we already know that a romp in bed is good cardiovascular exercise, more studies have emerged to show that sexual activity is also good for your brain. This apparently applies across all ages, but for people who are catching up on age, the implications are significant. Firstly, people tend to lose brain function as they grow older, which leads to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and depression. As such, there may come a time when the doctor’s prescription to an elderly person may be to have more sex in order to arrest mental decline!
Losing your marbles?
Now that more people are living beyond 60, researchers and scientists are starting to look into factors affecting ageing populations. This is to ensure that the elderly can continue enjoying a good quality of life in their golden years. After all, what is the use of living longer if you are ill, in pain or suffering? Various studies have shown that one of the top concerns about ageing is losing mental capacity, followed by loss of independence and loneliness.
Some studies have shown that people are more concerned about losing their minds than their physical capacities, because losing cognitive prowess would result in the loss of dignity. Distressed caregivers of parents with dementia often share how their elderly parents start behaving like little children, throwing tantrums, messing up the house and running around the house undressed.
If the Amsterdam Aging Study is anything to go by, the simple and non-medicinal way to prevent this is simply to have more sex. This study, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, involved 2,000 people with the average age of 71. The results showed that sex slows down the progress of dementia. Not only that, sexually active participants also have better memory, better cognitive function and higher intelligence compared to those who ranked sex as a lower priority.
To find out, researchers at the Princeton of Maryland in the US conducted a study with two groups of male rats. One group was allowed sex only once in a fortnight, while the other group were allowed to have sex daily for two weeks. The results showed that frequent sex produced more nerve growth in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with learning and memory.
Sex also increases blood flow to the brain, improving oxygen levels and nutrients to the brain. The sexually active rats also had lower stress levels, which spells less tendency for depression. Researchers also found that the increase in the hormone testosterone after sex helps improve concentration, while the hormone oxytoxin helps one feel relaxed and aids sleep. Little surprise, then, that the study surmised that men with three or more orgasms a week tend to live much longer than those with one or zero orgasms.
We all know that exercise is one of the key elements to good health. Most doctors recommend 30 minutes of physical activity at least five times a week to stay fit. This moderate exercise will help curb problems such as diabetes, heart disease and depression. Most people do not realise that sex is a good form of exercise too. A study by the British Heart Foundation estimates that a typical sex session of 25 minutes would burn 100 calories in men and 69 calories in women.
That is equivalent to walking a dog, playing doubles tennis or walking uphill for 20 minutes, 33 minutes of golf on a driving range, 40 minutes of yoga or 19 minutes of light rowing. With the added advantage of mental stimulation, there is now good reason to stay in for a frolic on a rainy day instead of going to the gym. It would seem the most natural thing for couples to do as a pastime, but the fact is that more people are spending time on social media than engaging with each other.
A recent survey in Britain among 2,000 residents by condom maker Durex showed surprising insights – 60% of people said their partners preferred to play with technology in bed, 30% had been distracted by mobile devices, and 5% were on Facebook while having sex. Last year, Harris Interactive, an international market research firm, released a similarly astonishing study showing that Americans prefer their mobile phones over sex.
Only 20% of the people polled replied that they could not live without sex, while 26% said they could not live without their mobiles. The saving grace is that 45% of the people polled said they could not live without their spouse or partner. Surely smart answers like that is the result of sexually-satisfied relationships.
May 17, 2015
By Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar