Why get­ting it on is just what the doc­tor or­dered

Cast aside those fish oil cap­sules, says Rowan Pelling, it’s reg­u­lar love­mak­ing that will stim­u­late your mem­ory and brain

The Daily Telegraph - - Style & Features -

We have a catch­phrase at The Amorist

mag­a­zine: hav­ing sex may not make you smarter, but smart peo­ple def­i­nitely have more sex. It seems the first part of our mantra was far too hes­i­tant. Sci­en­tists from Ox­ford and Coven­try Uni­ver­si­ties have just pub­lished re­search sug­gest­ing the brain-boost­ing ef­fects of reg­u­lar sex­ual ac­tiv­ity on 50-some­things’ ver­bal flu­ency and vis­ual mem­ory. You can only as­sume cham­pion Scrab­ble players go at the act of in­ti­macy like crazed stoats.

None of these reve­la­tions come as a huge sur­prise. Po­ets have known for cen­turies that pas­sion is the path to the most en­thralling verse. No one walks away from the col­lected works of Shake­speare with­out know­ing they’ve en­coun­tered a writer with ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence of phys­i­cal rap­ture. It just took sci­ence a while to catch up.

Pro­fes­sors at Rut­gers Univer­sity in New Jer­sey, armed with a state-ofthe-art MRI scan­ner, have shown the brain floods with blood, oxy­gen and nu­tri­ents at the point of or­gasm – ac­ti­vat­ing key ar­eas associated with neu­ro­log­i­cal func­tion. It’s not of­ten I can boast this, but as far as I know I’m the only Bri­tish wo­man to have do­nated an or­gasm to sci­ence as part of Rut­gers’ on­go­ing re­search project. (Yes, this did in­volve self-stim­u­la­tion in a clank­ing metal tube in a ster­ile white room, but this is a fam­ily news­pa­per so I will not elab­o­rate.)

My trip to New Jer­sey al­lowed me to talk to the boffins at some length about the phys­i­cal, men­tal and emo­tional benefits of sex. Fre­quent ex­er­cise im­proves al­most ev­ery as­pect of hu­man func­tion, so it makes sense hor­i­zon­tal ex­er­cise is a uni­ver­sal panacea. Men who re­main sex­u­ally ac­tive are less likely to suf­fer prostate cancer, while fe­male en­thu­si­asts en­joy car­dio­vas­cu­lar benefits. There’s also ev­i­dence that peo­ple who main­tain ac­tive sex lives live longer than those who don’t. And then there’s sex’s mood-en­hanc­ing prop­er­ties: swifter and surer than any med­i­ca­tion.

Al­though, we surely don’t need sci­en­tists to tell us peo­ple who en­joy a ful­fill­ing love life tend to be more cheer­ful and re­laxed than their more frus­trated coun­ter­parts. When­ever I’ve en­coun­tered a par­tic­u­larly grumpy and ob­struc­tive per­son in the work­place, I’ve thought, “There’s an in­di­vid­ual who could do with a lit­tle more lov­ing.”

The fact we now know sex has brain-en­hanc­ing prop­er­ties is just the cherry on the ic­ing on the erotic cake. Al­though, ad­mit­tedly, it does give sen­su­al­ists an ex­cel­lent ex­cuse to dis­port them­selves even more fre­quently. Find­ing The Daily

Tele­graph cross­word a bit tricky today? Sim­ply grab your beloved and en­joy an in­stant boost to your neu­ral con­nec­tiv­ity. The pro­duc­ers of

Mas­ter­mind and Univer­sity Chal­lenge may find them­selves hav­ing to in­stall love cu­bi­cles in place of a green room, to al­low con­tes­tants their best shot at suc­cess.

But surely this news is most cheer­ing for the older sec­tion of the pop­u­la­tion, who live in dread of en­croach­ing de­men­tia. They can throw away the fish oil and take up good, old-fash­ioned knee-trem­blers in­stead.

Five health benefits of hav­ing more sex in midlife

News that reg­u­lar ac­tion in your fifties and beyond im­proves brain func­tion will have had teenagers rolling their eyes in em­bar­rass­ment the coun­try over.

“Peo­ple don’t like to think that older peo­ple have sex,” ad­mits study au­thor Dr Hay­ley Wright from Coven­try Univer­sity. “But we need to chal­lenge this con­cep­tion at a so­ci­etal level.” “There are count­less rea­sons to con­tinue hav­ing sex in your fifties and older, from im­proved emo­tional health to the many phys­i­cal benefits,” agrees Bar­bara Bloom­field, a Re­late ther­a­pist and au­thor of Cou­ples Ther­apy: Dra­mas of Love and Sex.

So with that in mind, here’s why plenty of what you fancy is up there with sleep and ex­er­cise in ben­e­fit­ing mind, body and soul…

1. You’ll be­come smarter

As well as the Coven­try and Ox­ford study, a 2016 study from Canada sug­gested that women who have reg­u­lar sex have better memories. A team at Mcgill Univer­sity found a link be­tween reg­u­lar sex and the growth of ner­vous tis­sue in the area of the brain that con­trols our emo­tions and mem­ory.

2. You’ll look younger

Put down that £100 pot of eye cream: sci­en­tists at the Royal Ed­in­burgh Hos­pi­tal have found older cou­ples hav­ing reg­u­lar sex look five to seven years younger than those who rarely have sex. Dr David Weeks, who led the 10-year study, found that if the sex was “lov­ing” and plea­sure was de­rived from it, hormones were released that made the skin more elas­tic and youth­ful. Weeks found that ca­sual sex didn’t have the same ef­fects, as it could cause anx­i­ety and feel­ings of in­se­cu­rity.

3. You’ll get fewer colds

Hav­ing sex at least once a week has been found to raise your body’s lev­els of im­munoglob­u­lin A (known as IGA), which is a cold and flu­fight­ing an­ti­body. “IGA is the first line of de­fence against colds and flu,” says Carl Chenet­ski from Wilkes Univer­sity in Penn­syl­va­nia, whose study found that cou­ples who have sex once or twice a week have 30 per cent higher lev­els of IGA.

4. You’ll feel hap­pier

A study of 8,000 peo­ple over the age of 50 from Trin­ity Col­lege Dublin found that cou­ples who main­tain a healthy sex life in later life were less likely to feel de­pressed and were more pos­i­tive about age­ing.

5. Your heart health will im­prove

For­get the ru­mours about six­tysome­things hav­ing heart at­tacks mid-coitus. Re­search seems to sug­gest the op­po­site is true and that reg­u­lar sex can re­duce your risk of a heart at­tack. Re­searchers at Queen’s Univer­sity in Belfast found a weekly roll in the sheets can halve the risk of a heart at­tack or stroke and another study found women who or­gasm at least twice a week were 30 per cent less likely to de­velop heart dis­ease.

Cherry on the cake: Sex and the City got women talk­ing about sex; now there’s no ex­cuse for not go­ing for it

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