Besides a heart full of love and a big smile, romance can bringsome positive health benefits.
Some scientific studies suggest that a loving relationship, physical touch and sex can bring health benefits such as lower blood pressure. Of course, no relationship can guarantee health and happiness, but cupid’s arrow can send you some health boosts.
Want to get healthy and have fun at the same time? Anything that exercises your heart is good for you, including sex. Sexual arousal sends the heart rate higher and the number of beats per minute reaches its peak during orgasm.
But, as with most exercise, it depends how vigorously you do it. Some studies show that the average peak heart rate at orgasm is the same as during light exercise, such as walking upstairs. That’s not enough to keep most people fit and healthy.
Adults should do at least 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have 150 minutes of orgasms a week, try cycling, brisk walking or dancing.
Having heart disease doesn’t have to hold you back in the bedroom. Experts advise that you can usually have sex as long as you can do the everyday activities that have the same impact on your heart without causing chest pain, such as walking up two flights of stairs.
Source: Rerkpattanapipat P, Stanek MS, MN Kotler. Sex and the heart: What is the role of the cardiologist? European Heart Journal 2001;22: 201-208.
A hug keeps tension away
Embracing someone special can lower blood pressure, according to researchers. In one experiment, couples who held each other’s hands for 10 minutes followed by a 20-second hug had healthier reactions to subsequent stress, such as public speaking.
Compared with couples who rested quietly without touching, the huggers had:
- lower heart rate
- lower blood pressure
- smaller heart rate increases
So give your partner a hug – it may help to keep your blood pressurehealthy.
Similar effects have been found for non-sexual stroking, although this appears to only reduce blood pressure in women who are stroked, not men.
Source: Grewen KM, Anderson BJ, Girdler SS, Light KC. Warm partner contact is related to lower cardiovascular reactivity. Behavioural Medicine, 2003;29:123-30.
Sex can be a stress buster
Workload too high? Hot and bothered after the morning journey to work? Sex could help you beat the stresses of 21st century living, according to a small study of 46 men and women.
Participants kept a diary of sexual activity, recording penetrative sex, non-penetrative sex and masturbation.
In stress tests, including public speaking and doing mental arithmetic out loud, the people who had no sex at all had the highest stress levels.
People who only had penetrative sex had the smallest rise in blood pressure. This shows that they coped better with stress.
Plenty of people find that intimacy or orgasm without penetration helps them feel relaxed, as do exercise or meditation. It doesn’t have to be penetrative sex; it’s whatever works for you.
Try these 10 stress busters.
Source: Brody S. Blood pressure reactivity to stress is better for people who recently had penile-vaginal intercourse than for people who had other or no sexual activity. Biological Psychology, 2006;71:214-22.
Related Article: How to Effectively Share Your Sexual Wishes With Your Lover
Weekly sex might help fend off illness
There’s a link between how often you have sex and how strong your immune system is, researchers say.
A study in Pennsylvania found that students who had sex once or twice a week had higher levels of an important illness-fighting substance in their bodies.
Immunoglobulin A (IgA) was 30% higher in those who had sex once or twice a week than in those who had no sex at all. However, the lowest levels were in people who had sex more than twice a week.
But don’t devise a sex calendar just yet. More research is needed before it can be proved that weekly sex helps your immune system. Another study found that stroking a dog resulted in raised IgA levels in students (resting quietly or stroking a stuffed dog didn’t).
Sources: Charnetski CJ, Brennan FX. Sexual frequency and salivary immunoglobulin A (IgA). Psychology Report, 2004;94:839-44.
Charnetski CJ, Riggers S, Brennan FX. Effect of petting a dog on immune system function. Psychology Report, 2004;95:1087-91.