by Susie Cortright
Quick quiz: Would you rather run 75 miles or have sex three
times per week for a year? Research shows that both activities
burn the same number of calories. (7,500, to be exact.)
We often think that something that feels good canít
possibly be good for us. Now itís time to think again.
Sex in a loving, intimate relationship has numerous health
benefits. In women, for example, the sexual act triggers
the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin promotes feelings of
affection and triggers that nurturing instinct. In men,
sex encourages the flow of testosterone, which strengthens
bones and muscles and helps transport DHEA, a hormone that
may be important in the function of the bodyís immune system.
Paul Pearsall, Ph.D., author of Superimmunity, also maintains
that sex in a loving relationship helps the immune system
by increasing the flow of certain chemicals in the body.
Hugh OíNeill, editor of Menís Health magazine, recently
listed some health benefits of sex, as well. Regular sex
is regular exercise and has similar benefits, including
improved cholesterol levels and increased circulation.
Menís Health also reported that men who have sex at least
three times each week may have a decreased risk of
developing prostate problems.
Sex, like exercise, releases endorphins. Endorphins
contribute to the runnerís high and diminishes pain
An active sex life may help us live longer, too.
Dr. David Weeks, a clinical neuropsychologist at
Scotlandís Royal Edinburgh Hospital, conducted a
study of 3,500 people ranging in age from 18 to 102.
Weeks concluded that sex actually slows the aging
Sexual therapists remind us that frequent sex is a
form of exercise. And feeling secure in a relationship
leads to feeling happier, which could lead to greater
health--and a younger look.
In fact, these studies indicate that intimacy plays a
key role in the health benefits of sex. A promiscuous
sexual relationship may actually produce an opposite
effect by introducing a sense of anxiety and fear.
In spite of all these health benefits and the sheer pleasure
of the act, Americans may still need a boost. At least
one-third of American couples report
"inhibited sexual desire," according to The Masters and
Sex therapists say sex acts on the principal of
"use it or lose it." So, for your heart, mind, and soul,
the best advice may be to "Just do it!"