Stay intimate and stay mentally sharp in golden years, study shows

By Greg Hamilton • Published: August 8th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

So, you want to stay mentally sharp into your golden years? Along with making healthy life choices — like eating well and getting exercise — scientists say a key may be to stay frisky in bed. A team of British researchers studying men and women between ages 50 and 83 has found the more sexually active the person, the better he or she scored on certain brain function tests.

The participants were asked about their health and lifestyle but also how often, on average, they engaged in sex over the past 12 months: never, monthly or weekly. They then took a test that assessed various brain functions. In findings published in The Journals of Gerontology, those who had sex at least once a week scored higher on visual, spatial and verbal tests than those who had sex monthly or never. There was no significant difference in scores in the attention, memory and language tests.

This study builds on previous research linking sexually active older adults to higher cognitive test scores by focusing on the impact of frequency and which brain functions benefit the most.

Researchers saw a link between frequency and gender, notably that all of the participants who reported having no sex within 12 months were women and a third of men reported monthly activity. Results were evenly split among men and women in the weekly category. The scientists also took into account variables such as women being more reluctant to discuss the topic, and that more women than men in the study were widows or without partners.

While the team acknowledged larger studies are needed to expand on the findings, they said the results show the importance of maintaining intimate relationships later in life.