Everyone knows that good sex feels fabulous at any age. But what’s not as well known is that a regular roll in the hay can also add up to eight years to your life expectancy.
Not only that, but the more orgasms you have, the longer you can expect to live.
Regular sex improves hormone levels, heart health and brain power and revs up your immune system – so you can hold on to your youth while you enjoy yourself.
Aim for orgasm
It’s not just the amount of sex you’re having that counts when it comes to adding years to your life – it’s the quality, too. One study discovered that orgasms can increase the body’s infection-fighting cells by up to 20%.
Even more impressive is the fact that regular orgasms make men twice as likely to live into old age as those who don’t have sex and women to live up to eight years longer.
Having an orgasm floods the body with mood-boosting chemicals and promotes relaxation, as well as bonding couples emotionally.
Several studies have shown happily married couples are likely to live longer than singles or those in negative relationships.
And it’s not just the men who reap serious benefits.
Women who have two orgasms a week are up to 30% less likely to develop heart disease than those who don’t enjoy sex.
Years added: Up to eight
Cuddling isn’t just an enjoyable aspect of good sex – it also helps to release the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, which has been linked to life expectancy.
Babies and even animals that are deprived of this hormone, which is triggered by positive touching, often fail to thrive.
Research has found that oxytocin can dramatically boost longevity and people in relationships are less vulnerable to chronic diseases and depression.
Make the most of it: Even if you’re not in the mood, a cuddle can trigger a rush of oxytocin and make you want to get closer – but only with your beloved, as it is produced in greater quantities with a familiar partner.
Years added: Seven
More, more, more!
It really is a case of use it or lose it and having sex at least once a week will keep your hormones, heart and brain in top condition. And the more you have, the better the benefits. Men who have sex three or more times a week reduce their risk of heart attack or stroke by 50%.
It’s largely a myth that sex can trigger heart attacks, but if you’re worried, don’t over-do the aerobics and you’ll still get the benefit of powerful relaxation hormones. Feeling happy and positive about your life can also add years and regular sex releases “feel good” endorphins at any age, as well as easing stress.
Make the most of it: Have a “sex date” once a week. It doesn’t have to be at bedtime – try it if the kids are out on Sunday afternoon or by sneaking home at lunch.
Planned sex means you’ll look forward to it more and you’re more likely to prioritise it if it’s in the diary.
Years added: Up to two
Cook up a storm in the bedroom
To enjoy good sex, it helps if you’re in the mood – which is why brain chemicals are so important.
A lack of desire, once you’ve ruled out illness, tiredness, or other issues, can be down to a reduction in one of four brain chemicals – dopamine, acetylcholine, GABA and serotonin.
To get them up to speed again, certain herbs and spices can help. For dopamine, which enhances mood and confidence, try basil, black pepper, chillies, cumin, garlic, ginger and turmeric.
Acetylcholine helps improve alertness and focus so try all-spice, basil, peppermint, sage and thyme.
GABA, a natural antidepressant, is found in alcohol – but just one or two glasses of red wine will do the trick.
Serotonin boosts happiness and relaxation so try turkey, bananas and chocolate.
Make the most of it: Cook up a light vegetable curry served with saffron rice (also a libido booster) to get yourselves in the mood.
Years added: Up to 10
Stay fighting fit
An infection isn’t likely to carry you off in your youth, but as you age, flu and respiratory infections can become a huge health issue. Luckily, sex can help to protect you.
A US study found couples who have sex up to twice a week have higher levels of antibodies – which protect the body from colds and flu – than people who enjoy less bedroom action. So while getting your five a day is important, it may be even more useful to get your two a week.
Make the most of it: Cut down on excess boozing, which weakens the body’s defences. Instead, go to bed an hour earlier and this will help to fight off the flu.
Years added: Up to eight
Work up a sweat
It’s common knowledge that exercise helps keep you fit, improves circulation and muscle tone and staves off the ageing process, but going to the gym can be hard work.
So it’s good news that sex provides almost all the same benefits as regular exercise, without having to hit the treadmill. It increases circulation and metabolism and burns about 30 calories for 20 minutes of reasonably active sex. That means in an hour you’ve burnt off a glass of wine or a couple of biscuits.
And when it comes to good bone health and avoiding osteoporosis in later life, it’s equally good news.
Middle-aged women who have weekly sex have been found to have twice the bone-protecting oestrogen levels of those who don’t.
Make the most of it: Keep sex fun by switching positions. If you always do it in missionary, speed up your heart rate by going on top for a change.
Years added: 10
Put your heart into it
Cutting down on fat and giving up smoking is great for your heart, but not always fun.
Sex, on the other hand, is fantastic for your heart – with none of the dull, boring bits.
And it’s not only women who benefit in the heart stakes.
A study last year by the New England Research Institute showed that having sex twice a week can reduce the risk of a heart attack by 45% – and if that’s upped to three times a week, it’s down to 50%.
This is thought to be down to endorphins, which can help neutralise stress hormones.
One study suggests that a powerful orgasm is equivalent to a shot of Valium and works immediately as a relaxant.
Make the most of it: Give each other a sensual massage to help stress melt away. Lots of stroking and intimate touches will soon put you in the mood for more, all the while releasing all that built-up tension.
Years added: Up to 15
Sex for survival
Most people’s holy grail of health is cancer prevention, so it’s good to know that regular sex might be instrumental in protecting both men and women from the Big C.
According to one study, women who have regular sex may even lower their risk of breast cancer, while further research from Nottingham University suggests that sexually active older men are less likely to develop prostate cancer.
And there’s plenty more research to show links between intimate sex and decreased stress levels and cancer protection.
Even if it involves a good giggle, you’re helping to dramatically decrease the effects of the stress hormone cortisol, which has been linked to the development of certain cancers.
Just 15 minutes of fun between the sheets every day can increase your life expectancy – so why not head for the bedroom and double up your pleasure?
Make the most of it: After a tense week at work, cuddle up in bed with a funny romantic comedy and a glass of red wine (known for its cancer-fighting properties) to make sure you’re extra relaxed before finally getting down to business.