Sex 'makes you five years younger'
Published on 05 July 2013 01:30 PM
Older people with active sex lives can look and feel at least 5 years younger than others of the same age, new research suggests.
Staying sexually and physically active into older age can improve both mental and physical wellbeing, according to Dr David Weeks, a consultant clinical psychologist and former Head of Old Age Psychology at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.
His research indicates that older men and women with an active love life look between 5-7 years younger than their actual age.
He said the pleasure derived from sex is key to that youthfulness, because the body releases endorphins - natural feelgood chemicals - during lovemaking.
Health benefits of sex
As well as acting as natural painkillers these chemicals also help to ease anxiety, he added.
'The stereotype of an elderly person is that when they get their pension and bus pass, they stop having sex and that's not true,' the expert told the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society's Faculty of the Psychology of Older People in Colchester.
He called for the strong promotion of more positive attitudes to sex among older people, arguing that society should have a more positive attitude towards sexual activity in older people, because of the many benefits to health and wellbeing that it brings.
'Sexual satisfaction is a major contributor to quality of life,' according to Dr Weeks, 'ranking at least as high as spiritual or religious commitment'.
Great for your skin
As well as those feelgood chemicals, the expert also pointed out that physical exercise offers obvious benefits such as boosting circulation, which can give the skin a healthy glow.
Older people can also benefit from the release of the human growth hormone during lovemaking, which can make the skin more elastic, while sex can also help to burn fat and improve quality of sleep.
'Sexuality is definitely not the prerogative of younger people and nor should it be,' said Dr Weeks.
A word of caution
However, it's important to note that there has been a steady rise in STIs in the over-50s age group and we can all be at risk of an STI, including HIV, and anyone considering having sex with someone new should have a sexual health screen and use a condom, no matter what age they are.
Copyright Press Association 2013