The oldest baby boomers are turning 65, and there’s a frenzy of scientific interest in sex among older people. Findings from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, a long-term study on sexuality and well-being among older Americans, show positive and close relationships can improve health and longevity. Having healthy connections was also associated with better cognitive functioning and delayed onset of dementia and impairment.
In addition to the benefits of physical intimacy — hugging, kissing, cuddling, etc. — investigators found that “consistent sex” (a rate that varies greatly among consenting couples) may have a positive impact on stress levels through the brain’s chemical neurotransmitters.
You don’t need a medical degree to realize that most adults who have satisfying sex tend to be healthier and happier overall. “It’s likely that people who are more vigorous and content [with their lives] are more likely to have sex than those who are sick or depressed anyway,” says Stephen Snyder, MD, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
Here are other health benefits of satisfying sex:
- Boosts immune function (studies find higher levels of antibodies in the saliva of sexually active seniors),
- Lowers risk for prostate cancer,
- Induces better sleep (sex releases snoozy feel-good chemicals called endorphins),
- Focuses a healthy concern on appearance and physical activity,
- Heightens emotional awareness,
- Improves quality of intimate relationships, and
- Lowers blood pressure in stressful situations.
More good news: A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that men who ejaculated frequently (at least 21 times a month) were less likely to get prostate cancer. So you don’t even need a sex partner to reap some of the healthiest benefits of good sex — masturbation counts, too.
To ensure the healthy longevity of your libido:
- Exercise regularly to maintain body weight and boost your confidence.
- Avoid medications that may have low libido as a side effect.
- Masturbate and fantasize. (Remember: It’s good for your health.)