Make love – for your health

What is the best way to increase the chance of a long and healthy life? Some are convinced that jogging, a variety of diets or a daily glass of red wine is the answer. But don’t overlook sex. The fact is that making love is downright good for seniors. So let’s get a little more amore into our grown-up life.

Making love is great exercise and involves some interesting acrobatics. Studies show that having sex three times a week burns 7,500 calories in a year, the equivalent of jogging 75 miles. Even better, vigorous sex consumes 200 calories each time and, at three times a week, this activity expends 31,000 calories a year, the same as 310 miles of jogging. Given this choice only an idiot would want to jog. After all, making love is a pleasant affair. But have you ever seen a jogger smiling? Most look like they’re about to take their last breath.

It’s been said that Europeans have sex lives; the English have hot water bottles! But what about the Irish? Researchers at Queen’s University in Belfast tracked the mortality of 1,000 middle-aged men over the course of 10 years. They reported in the British Medical Journal that men who had the highest frequency ofex enjoyed a death rate 50 per cent lower than those who were less sexually active. The French, however, didn’t need a scientific study to reach this conclusion. They call orgasm la petite mort, or the little death. But they quickly add that a little death now and then helps to postpone the big one. Sex seems such a small price to pay for extending one’s life!

Another study at Queen’s showed sexual activity improves cardiovascular health. Men who were enjoying sex three or more times a week cut their risk of heart attack in half. Shah Ebrahim, co-author of this study, displayed the British gift of understatement when he remarked, “The relationship between frequency of sexual intercourse and mortality is of considerable public interest.” And, I would add, of great personal interest.

Sex prevents colds?
Studies at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania show individuals who have sex once or twice a week have 30 per cent higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A. This boosts the immune system and helps to decrease the risk of colds. And Dr. Beverly Whipple, an associate professor at Rutgers University, says intercourse can help to relieve the pain of arthritis, whiplash and other injuries. During sex, the hormone oxytocin surges to five times its normal level. This in turn releases endorphins, the body’s own morphine. So for those who say they have a headache, sexual intercourse may make the pain go away!

It’s often said, “Use it or lose it.” For males, this is true. Not using it often enough causes a painful, swollen prostate gland, a condition called chronic prostatitis. Stepping up the frequency of sex is a prescription that helps to ease the nagging pain. During orgasm, the muscles around the prostate gland contract, pushing out prostate fluid, thus easing the congestion.

Today, too many seniors are reaching for antidepressants and sleeping pills to treat anxiety and insomnia. They forget the remedy may be found in the bedroom. Recent headlines have shown that medication is not without side effects. Normal sex is 100 per cent natural, without side-effects, lessens tension and helps you sleep like a baby.

Sex bonds marriages. I tell patients sex is only five per cent of a marriage — but the first five per cent. For years, young couples have been led to believe that having husbands participate in childbirth is the answer to a lasting marriage. I maintain this practice is scientific balderdash, but it’s firmly entrenched in North America. The idea was started as a marketing device by U.S hospitals. Later, the folly spread to Canada. But more than ever, we are seeing supposedly strong marriages breaking apart. So much for that experiment. A good sex life does more to bond a marriage than does witnessing the birth of a child in the labour room.