An active sex life for the over 50s could help fight off dementia, scientists have claimed.
Research conducted by Coventry University in the UK has found that regular lovemaking among the over 50s leads to sharper cognitive function, due to the release of hormones. The study was published in the journal Age and Ageing and the results suggest that the release of hormones including oxytocin and dopamine during sex can promote learning and memory.
“The findings have implications for the promotion of sexual counselling in healthcare settings, where maintaining a healthy sex life in older age could be instrumental in improving cognitive function and wellbeing,” the study states.
More than 6,800 individuals between the age of 50 and 89 in England were asked questions about their love life and then completed a series of mental tests. The challenges included recalling lists and recognizing patterns, both of which are shown to demonstrate healthy brain activity.
Participants listened to a list of 10 words and were asked to repeat them back straight away, then again after five minutes. People were also asked to solve sequences with a missing number. Sexually active men scored on average 23 per cent higher in the word tests and 3 per cent more in the number challenges, while women who had regular sex recorded improvements of 14 per cent and 2 per cent respectively.
“Any part of the body needs to be exercised to keep in good shape and because sex triggers so many changes in the brain it will inevitably help keep it agile and capable,” psychosexual counselor Pauline Brown is quoted as saying by MailOnline. “There can be physical barriers caused by ageing, but these results show just how important it is for couples to keep this part of their relationship strong and healthy.
“Sex is a key part of what it means to be human, whether as a young adult or someone of advancing years. And it makes people feel good so it encourages them to be more positive about life and more likely to eat well and pursue other healthy activities like Pilates or line-dancing.”
Around 850,000 people in the UK have been diagnosed with dementia. Previous studies have found that taking vitamins B6 and E, drinking green tea and dancing have all been shown to reduce the risk of developing the condition.