12 Healthy Reasons to Have Sex Tonight

Candles lit? Check. Barry White on deck? Oh yeah. Dark chocolate-covered strawberries and a glass of wine? Pouring now.  Last…Alexa, dim the lights. We all knows what comes next. But do you know the many health benefits that accompany a vibrant sex life? Hold on to your hat, these facts are mind-blowing. Once you know how intimacy enhances your longterm health, sex becomes even more pleasurable. Let us take you on a tour through the multitude of benefits sex provides for your health: physical, mental, emotional, and psychological.

12 Health Benefits of Sex

Aside from the obvious – reproduction, pleasure, and intimacy – sexual activity elevates your quality of life in a great number of ways. Sex promotes cardiovascular health, sharpens cognitive performance, extends your healthspan, boosts your mood, and beyond. So, what are you waiting for? Here are 12 healthy reason to have sex…tonight!

 

1. Strengthens your immune system

That’s right. People who have more sex get sick less often. Studies show a direct correlation between sexual activity and higher levels of immunoglobulin A – an antibody that fights the common cold and infections. Researchers found that university students who engaged in sexual activity twice per week possessed high levels of immunoglobulin A. By contrast, levels were lowest among couples who had no sex at all. Sexual frequency factors largely in our overall health. So, if you’re not coupling up a couple of times per week, get busy. The more time you spend in the bedroom, the less time you’ll spend in the examining room.

2. Improves mental health

If you’re feeling a little off but can’t quite put your finger on it, try to remember the last time you were intimate. People with lively sex lives report higher self-esteem and general wellbeing. Hooking-up decreases overall psychological stress as it reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, and releases oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone.” Both chemicals benefit out overall mental health. For women, contacting semen during intercourse even acts as an antidepressant. One psychologist recently hypothesized that the post-coital calming effect may be attributed to oxytocin. Orgasms trigger the release of endorphins, which are your body’s feel-good chemicals. So, not only do you want greater sexual frequency – you want to have great sex.

3. Sex boosts brainpower

Having a hard time remembering names or finding your glasses? Might be time for a tumble. Research published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior suggests that frequent sex may improve women’s memory. Sexual activity likely sharpens memory by stimulating new neuron production in the hippocampus – the region of the brain involved in learning and memory. In addition, sex may also enhance cognition. A University of Amsterdam study found that sexual encounters improve our analytical thinking. This boon applies to both men and women. Since fooling around makes you smarter…don’t be a dummy, have more of it.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, make up your mind to make love more often.

 4. Sex works out your body

Yes, sex counts as exercise. Physical activities that get your heart pumping are good for your health, and this includes sex. Depending on how, um actively, you’re going at it, a half hour of sex can burn close to 150 calories. Plus, you’ll make up for a handful of those chocolate-covered strawberries. By the way, the reverse is also true: vigorous exercise also boosts sexual performance. Working out works in your favor. Exercise boosts desire, arousal, satisfaction, and self-confidence. Challenge your love to a race to the bedroom. Last one to bed does the heavy-lifting.

5. Reduces pain

Headaches are often used as a reason to avoid intimacy. But, a cure may be right under your nose. During sex, your body releases serotonin, endorphins, and phenylethylamine. These hormones generate intense feelings of pleasure while at the same time killing pain. This chemical surge is likely the explanation for studies showing that intercourse can stop migraines. Before you reach for the painkillers, try reaching for your bedmate instead. Research suggests that sexual activity may reduce pain from migraine or cluster headaches. Among migraine sufferers, 60% reported a reduction in pain after sexual activity, while 37% of those with a cluster headache saw improvement. I’ve got a headache is no longer a valid excuse, but rather an invitation.

6. Sex deepens relationships

It’s called making love for a reason. Lovemaking plays a fundamental role in preserving happy relationships. Remember the “cuddle hormone”? Oxytocin makes you want to snuggle up to your partner after sex. For women, it helps them bond, trust, and also feel more generous towards their partners. And that “afterglow” we’ve heard so much about? For couples, this positive vibe lasts for up to 48 hours following sexual intercourse. This glow is associated with higher levels of long-term relationship satisfaction. Physical intimacy helps couples reduce stress and feel more secure, leading to more emotionally stable relationships. Turns out that the more love you make, the better you make your partner feel about your pairing.

Sexy couples are more secure, self-confident, and feel more deeply about their partner. So, couple up every chance you get.

7. Helps you sleep better

Does it seem like you’re always chasing a good night’s sleep? Maybe you just need to sleep around. Following an orgasm, and even during sex, the brain releases hormones including norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin, and vasopressin. All of these hormones can help you sleep. In women, a rise in estrogen levels during sex enhances their REM cycle, which means more restorative sleep. Men are especially likely to succumb to the sleep-inducing effects of sex because the prefrontal cortex slows significantly in males after orgasm. This happens to be the part of the brain responsible for interpreting and responding to new information. So, if your man falls asleep when you’d rather snuggle, don’t be insulted.

8. Makes you look younger

Tired of going broke on skincare products? Research shows sex is more potent than any anti-aging cream. Couples who have intercourse three or more times weekly appear, on average, ten years younger than their chronological age. Yes, you read that right: ten YEARS. Orgasms trigger the release of estrogen in both men and women, which improves hair and skin quality, making people look more attractive, too. That fabled “morning after” glow? It’s not just your imagination. You really do look amazing after having sex. This glow is the result of a combination of factors: stress relief, better mood, and the flush of blood under your skin that’s a natural part of the arousal process. So, skip the makeup counter and head straight to the bedroom.

9. Sex extends longevity

Sexual activity may hold the key to a longer life. A 25-year study determined that, in men, frequent intercourse was a significant predictor of longevity. Among women, those who reported enjoying sex lived longer. Another recent  study determined that sexual activity may have a protective effect on men’s healthspan. Researchers tracked the mortality of almost 1,000 men aged between 45 and 59 over the course of 10 years. They found that risk of death was 50 percent lower in men who frequently had orgasms than men who did not ejaculate. For women, it’s quality over quantity. High quality sex seems to protect women in later life. Aim for longevity in the bedroom to extend longevity as you age.

Your heart loves sex. Improve your heart health and extend longevity when you show your partner some love.

10. Your heart loves sex

Sexual arousal increases heart rate, with the number of beats per minute peaking during orgasm. Men who have regular sex are 50 percent less likely to develop heart diseaseEvidence suggests that men with better overall health have higher drives and therefore more sex overall, which creates a positive feedback loop that further builds a healthy cardiovascular system. Interestingly, results from most studies suggest that high frequency of sex is correlated with later onset of cardiovascular events for men. For women, better quality of sex is more cardio-protective. Both men and women should follow their hearts when it leads them to the bedroom. Get it pumping. Your heart will love you for it.

 

11. Lowers blood pressure

High blood pressure stresses out your blood vessels, leading to damage and narrow, hardened arteries. These same dangers to your cardiovascular system can also cause erectile dysfunction in men and reduced arousal and inability to orgasm in women. Reseach published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior found that sex in later years might reduce the risk of high blood pressure – at least for women. In men, studies have shown a link between low testosterone and high blood pressure, while the spikes in testosterone associated with sexual activity might help lower blood pressure. Testosterone stokes sexual desire – for both men and women. If you’re suffering from low libido, bioidentical hormone pellet therapy could be a solution.  Have more sexy time and surprise your cardiologist on your next visit when he checks your vitals.

For those suffering from erectile dysfunction who are looking for a natural solution, you can learn more here.

12. Lowers prostate cancer risk

Research shows that men who frequently ejaculate could be protected against prostate cancer, the most common cancer among men in the United States. Research from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD, and published in JAMA, discovered that men who ejaculated 21 times per month or more were a third less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who ejaculated between four and seven times per month. Some studies suggest sex “flushes out” any carcinogens in the prostate gland. On the flip side, a recent study showed that very frequent sexual activity in young men (20s and early 30s) could actually increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. But frequent ejaculation in middle-aged or older (50+) men decreased disease risk. For Boomers, this is good news. Keep getting it on like you’ve always done. Not in mood, guys? Get into it and start getting busy.

The takeaway?

Sex is an important part of life and overall well-being. In relationships, orgasms play a significant part in bonding. Physical and emotional benefits like reduced risk of heart disease, improved self-esteem, enhanced mental health and more are correlated with and lively and loving sex life. Not only can lovemaking be a pleasurable and exciting activity, sex may make you live longer.

Cue the Barry White…You just got in the mood.

 

How to Enjoy Healthy Holidays Without Being A Total Killjoy

The holidays can present a mixed bag. Most of us look forward to Christmas lights, trimming the tree, and holiday parties with friends and family. But for all of the pros, there are also plenty of seasonal cons: the holidays are hectic, stressful, nerve-wracking, and exhausting. Racing from store to store collecting all the trappings is rarely as festive in real life as it looks on paper. Especially for women – who are more likely to be responsible for much of the planning, cooking, hosting, and gifting that make the season merry and bright. While it’s wonderful to spend time with those you love, getting to your destination can be taxing. Especially if must travel during hours you’d typically spend sleeping.

And if you’re trying to make healthy choices, the holidays are a minefield. Still, you want your loved ones to enjoy the yuletide cheer unfettered by your unique concerns. I mean, just because you’ve gone gluten-free that doesn’t mean your kids have to miss out on Grandma’s famous Christmas cookies. So, how do you strike the right balance? I’ve got you covered.

Arm yourself with the following tips to enjoy stress-free holidays without being a total killjoy.

 

Travel like Santa: It’s all about logistics

Unfortunately, most of us don’t own physics-defying sleds pulled by flying reindeer. A girl can dream though, right? Maybe next year if I’m very good, Santa will leave one under my tree. Until then, we can only aspire to travel like Santa. But holiday traffic, long lines at the airport, last-minute shopping, and unrealistic expectations from others can distress even the most centered among us. You get anxious, even panicky, sending your body into an intense stress response. The hormones released, such as cortisol and adrenaline, heighten your anxiety while suppressing your immune system. All of this, during a time when you need to protect your health the most. Stressful times require serious countermeasures. Planning is key – plan ahead to protect your physical and mental health.

So, how can you trip up travel stressors?

  • Do your homework – Make sure you know the best route to the airport or your final destination. Find out whether your hotel has a gym so you can de-stress with some exercise during your stay. Follow the weather reports so you’re prepared for the unexpected.
  • Pack your own food – This way you don’t have to rely on the over-processed options lining gas station aisles and airport guest shops. Restaurant food is often packed with extra butter, salt, and preservatives. Make sure your hotel has healthy food options on the menu.
  • Press pause – Things like overbooked flights and last-minute changes of plans can be stressful. If you encounter them, slow down for a few minutes, take some deep breaths, and try to clear your head. Walk it off if possible – around the block or the airport terminal. I find that a brisk walk can help put things in perspective.
  • Laugh a little – The benefits of laughter include lowering blood pressure, improving your immune system performance and reducing stress hormones. Interestingly, these positive effects are similar to having sex – I talk more about that here. Over the holidays, try to remember what truly matters: friends, fellowship, family. Surround yourself with people who make you smile.

Laugh a lot! When you laugh, your body releases endorphins which can make a happy holiday even happier.

Holiday weight gain? Sleep it off.

Only 40% of people get the recommended amount of sleep (7-9 hours) per night – and that’s when everything is going according to plan. Over the holidays, your sleep schedule can really go haywire. We spend more time celebrating and less time logging some serious zzzzs. Just one night of bad sleep can make you hungrier and inclined to eat more. Your plans for healthy holidays are all downhill. Short-term sleep loss can lead to increased caloric consumption. Even worse? Multiple studies suggest a link between chronic sleep deprivation and increased obesity risk over time. According to the CDC, people who get less than 7 hours of sleep a night are 24% more likely to be obese. And, the American Sleep Association says as much as 5% of obesity in adults may be attributable to sleep deprivation.

How to get a good night’s sleep when you’re waiting for the pitter-patter of reindeer feet?

  • Make sleep a priority – Insufficient sleep is linked to a broad array of chronic diseases and conditions. Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression top the list. Visits to the emergency room spike on Thanksgiving and Christmas days, in some areas, by as much as 12%. Many of these holiday patients present with injury or illnesses resulting from too little sleep.
  • Do not drive drowsy – We hear much about drunk driving. But a surprising number of auto accidents each year are caused by over-tired drivers. According to the CDC, an estimated 1 in 25 adults report having fallen asleep at the wheel in the last month. Over the holidays, these numbers are surely higher and, oftentimes, complicated by excessive alcohol consumption. So get the sleep you need and – if you don’t – surrender your keys to someone who has.
  • Unwind before bed – Stay away from devices and limit screen time. Save searches for last-minute gifts on Amazon for daylight hours.
  • Soak before you sleep – Try taking a warm bath before bed. There’s nothing I like more than lighting a lavender-scented candle and unwinding with an Epsom salt bath. After your soak, retire to a room that is dark and cool for optimal sleep.
  • Sleep and depression – Not getting enough sleep isn’t just bad for you physically. Lack of sleep can profoundly affect your mental health. The holidays are prime times for sleep disruption: you’re away from home, in an unfamiliar bed, and often not in control of your nightly routine. Sleep disturbance is one of the key symptoms of major depression so strive to maintain your personal bedtime rituals while you’re on the road.

Eat, drink, and be merry…within reason

For many, the holidays are a time where you grant yourself a free pass to indulge – the problems arise when you overindulge. Now, I’m not suggesting that you deprive yourself of your favorite seasonal delicacies. Each year when I am making stuffing, I forgo my typical healthy breakfast and indulge in a slice of pumpkin pie…I challenge anyone to stop me. However, taking a mindful approach to food and drink around the holidays is wise. Focus more on the fellowship and less on the food and you’ll have fewer regrets. You may actually get to know someone new or learn more about a distant cousin. Then when the parties are over, get back to your normal healthy routine as soon as possible.

How does one feast in moderation? One. Bite. At. A. Time.

  • Drink plenty of water – whenever possible, choose water over other beverage options. I always travel with my green tea bags since they’re caffeine-free and potent with antioxidants to oppose some of our inevitable poor holiday choices.
  • Watch your alcohol – it’s natural to want to celebrate during this festive time of year. Unfortunately, some revelers may drink to excess and, for many, this can lead to bad choices and even depression. The “holiday blues” are very real and can have dire consequences. Limit your alcohol intake and take in the good cheer instead.
  • Eat your own healthy food before heading out to holiday parties – if you’re already sated, you’re less likely to be tempted to overdo it. If you overindulge at all, let it be on charity and the love you share with your family and friends.
  • Contribute a healthy dish – bring along your signature fall vegetable casserole or a colorful salad. Every year I bake sweet potatoes with cinnamon and nutmeg. Why drown a perfect vegetable in syrup and marshmallows?
  • Pack your supplements in advance – I double my probiotic dosage to boost my immune system, aid digestion, and to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Don’t forget your daily dose of D. During fall and winter months when sunlight is scarce and we spend less time outdoors, Vitamin D is especially crucial. Learn more about this multitasking nutrient here.
  • Live a little – if you love your mom’s cornbread stuffing then, by all means, have a serving. Treat it like the once-a-year special exception that it is.

Baby, it’s cold outside. Take advantage of it! The holidays are the best time of the year for snow angels.

Workout your bod and your mood for healthy holidays

When you’re at home, you’ve got your exercise routine down pat – that’s the goal, anyway. But, over the holidays, you’re not always in control of your schedule. You’re often subjected to unexpected delays and complications. As our to-do lists grow ever longer, many of us exercise less and less. The last thing you want is more stress and, for many of us, trying to maintain our usual workout program does just that. At the same time, staying active gives you the necessary energy and peace of mind to mitigate both stress and offset some of those extra calories you’re eating. Most important, exercise is an all-natural means to keep depressive symptoms at bay during a time when many struggle most from mental health concerns.

How do you  stay active and stay in the holiday spirit at the same time?

  • Keep your eyes open – Wherever your travels take you, stay on the lookout for walking, running, or hiking trails nearby.
  • Bring a workout plan with you – Pack resistance bands or, if you have a laptop, bring your favorite yoga DVD so you can spend some downtime on your mat. When I travel, I pack my portable OYO double flex and squeeze in a workout when I find a spare minute. And no, I am not a paid spokesperson; I simply love this piece of equipment. And I’m in good company: the OYO was engineered for astronauts to maintain muscle mass while in space.
  • Wear running shoes whenever possible – You never know when you’ll find a 15-20-minute window for a walk. You want to be ready at all times. After dinner is a perfect time for an excursion and it will give you a chance to catch up with family and friends.
  • Organize team sports – Like football, soccer, or basketball so you can get the whole family moving. Group activities can help clear your head and reduce stress.
  • Volunteer to help with household chores – Things like raking leaves, carrying suitcases, or entertaining nieces and nephews who are hopped up on sugary treats allow you to burn calories and lend a helping hand at the same time.
  • Put on your dancing shoes – If there’s a dance floor at the company Christmas party, get your butt out there and shake it. Dancing burns up to 8 calories per minute…so get out on the floor and move. You’ll burn calories and steer clear of the buffet at the same time.
  • Get over yourself – So what if you can’t get in your daily 5-mile run while you’re visiting your in-laws? Don’t let it ruin your stay. Simply get back to your routine as soon as you get home.

Serenity now. Serenity now…Strategies for hosting and guesting

Whether you’re the party thrower or the party guest, healthy holiday entertaining requires you to be flexible, resourceful, and above all gracious. Once again, planning is essential for avoiding stress and putting together a special night for your loved ones. But, no matter how well you’ve thought it through, be prepared for things not to go as planned. That’s half the fun – just roll with it.

How do you entertain without feeling drained?

  • Have a backup plan – Always have a plan B. No matter what the occasion. Call in advance to see if any of your guests have dietary restrictions or allergies. So many people today are lactose intolerant and gluten-free. Save yourself some undue stress by preparing (or purchasing) an assortment of dishes to accommodate their needs.
  • Delegate, delegate, delegate – You don’t have to be a hero. Most people actually like to feel useful. Make sure to spread the responsibilities around whether it’s sending someone to pick up celebratory libations or letting the kids arrange a makeshift centerpiece from the pine cones they found in the yard. You’ll be less stressed when you let others get involved.
  • It’s ok not to be perfect – If someone arrives with an unexpected guest, simply pull up a folding chair and make room for that exchange student who’s far from home. American holidays are a wonderful cultural experience for all of us to share. If you must surrender your own Christmas china for a paper plate, you’ll represent the embodiment of grace and the spirt of giving.
  • De-stress with aromatherapy – My holiday go-to’s are cinnamon, nutmeg, bergamot, and frankincense. Besides simply smelling amazing, essential oils are calming and have a multitude of health benefits. Essential oils can even provide support for your thyroid. For the millions of Americans with thyroid disorders the holidays can be especially stressful. If you’re concerned that you’re suffering from an undiagnosed thyroid problem, here’s a post that may help you get the help you need.
  • Give yourself a break – If you’re not feeling social, it’s ok to sit out an event. Just make sure you call your host and cancel and maybe send a nice gift. You know your limits. It’s up to you to honor them.

Now, you’re armed with the tools for a healthy holiday season. Get out there and share your cheer as you ring in the new year!

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