For all of my readers celebrating Thanksgiving today, don't forget to give thanks for sex! Why? Research suggests that sex is good for us in many ways, both physically and psychologically. Below, I've pulled together a list of seven reasons to be thankful for sex today—and pretty much every other day of the year.
1. Sex is a multi-purpose activity--one that allows us to meet a wide range of needs. Believe it or not, scientists have identified at least 237 distinct reasons/motivations for having sex! Not only is sex a fun and pleasurable way to pass the time, but it's also a potential way to demonstrate love and affection and to find relief (studies have found that, among couples, having sex on one day is linked to feeling less stress the following day). As you can see, sex has the potential to do a lot for us.
2. Frequent sexual activity is linked to better health, with several studies reporting that the more frequently people experience orgasm, the better their physical health tends to be. Not only that, but other research has found that frequent sex is linked to a lower risk of heart attacks, and those who orgasm the most tend to live the longest! Of course, this research doesn't let us say definitively whether sex improves health (indeed, there's undoubtedly some truth to the idea that people who are healthier are probably more likely to have sex). That said, the results do suggest that sex is more likely to help rather than harm your health.
3. One direct health benefit of sex is that it's a form of exercise. For example, one study found that, on average, young men burned 101 calories while young women burned 69 calories during the act. Of course, at this rate, it would take a LOT of sex to burn off multiple servings of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pie. Translation: sex certainly isn't the equivalent of going to the gym (at least not for the vast majority of us), but it does count for something.
4. Sex isn't just good for our bodies--it's also good for our brains. For example, rat studies have found that frequent sexual activity is associated with more neuron growth. Consistent with this finding, studies focused on older adults have found that more frequent sexual activity is linked to maintaining better cognitive functioning with advanced age.
5. Another potential brain benefit of sex is that it seems to improve our mental health and well-being. Research has found that on days we have sex, we experience an increase in positive moods and a decrease in negative moods the following day. We also feel more meaning in life as well. These findings may help to explain, in part, why people are happier and more productive in the workplace to the extent that they had sex the night before.
6. Sex is something you can enjoy for pretty much your entire life. Indeed, many adults age 70+ still have active sex lives. Of course, we tend to slow down a little and we're more likely to experience certain sexual difficulties as we age. Fortunately, however, there is no definitive end point when it comes to sex and the benefits it can bring us, and there are steps you can take to help maintain a great sex life as you get older.
7. Good news for singles: research suggests that even solo sexual activities can potentially have health benefits. In other words, you don't necessarily need to have a partner to experience many of the effects discussed above. Check out this video for a brief look at research on self-love and health.
Have a very happy and sexy Thanksgiving!
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Image Credit: 123RF/Daniel Stepanian
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