Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer
Research has long enumerated the benefits of eating a healthy, balanced diet and engaging in regular exercise. Combined, the two offer a potent defence against early death. Increasingly, researchers are focusing their attention on another core area of human activity – sex.
A growing body of evidence links an active sex life to longevity and there are several proposed explanations for this association.
One of the strongest findings is that sexual activity may reduce the risk of heart disease.
The New England Research Institute conducted a massive study of sexual health and the incidence of cardiovascular events.
Its results suggested that regular sexual activity may reduce heart disease risk.
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The finding is significant because heart disease constitutes a major obstacle to longevity – it is the leading cause of death worldwide.
What’s more, sexual activity may reduce the risk of having a heart attack and negate its harmful effects.
Research conducted in Israel suggests an active sex life may protect heart attack survivors from dying in the years after their event.
The conclusion is based on a 22-year study following 1,120 men and women under the age of 65.
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The study found sexual activity before a heart attack boosted survival rates – but the most important factor was how much sex they had after.
Those who’d been having sex more than once a week prior to their heart attack were 27 percent less likely to die.
Weekly sex before a heart attack strengthened survival outcomes by 12 percent, and occasional sex by eight percent.
After a heart attack, those who had sex once a week reaped the greatest benefit.
People who had sex more than weekly were 33 percent less likely to die, and people who had sex less than once a week were 28 percent less likely to die.
The optimal amount was therefore weekly sex, which increased survival odds by 37 percent.
Bolstering the association, sexually inactive people were also more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and multiple chronic health problems in the year before the heart attack than people who had sex more than once a week.
Important sexual health advice
“Always use condoms to help protect yourself from catching or passing on a sexually transmitted disease (STI),” advises the NHS.
According to the health body, you should buy condoms that have the CE mark or BSI kite mark on the packet.
This means they have been tested to high safety standards. Condoms that do not have the CE mark or BSI kite mark will not meet these standards, so do not use them.
It is also important to get tested for STIs, even if you feel fine.
As the NHS points out, many people with STIs do not get symptoms and the earlier you’re tested, the sooner treatment can be given if it’s needed.
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