A new study has found a link between frequent sexual activity and improved brain function in older adults.
People who engaged in regular sex scored higher on tests that measured their verbal fluency and their ability to visually perceive objects and the spaces between them, researchers claim.
The study, conducted by researchers at Coventry University and Oxford University, involved 73 people aged 50-83.
Participants filled in questionnaires on how often, on average, they had had sex over the past 12 months.
They also answered questions about their general health and lifestyle.
The 28 men and 45 women also took part in a standardised test, which is typically used to measure different patterns of brain function in older adults and focuses on attention, memory, fluency, language and visuospatial ability.
In the verbal fluency tests, participants had 60 seconds to name as many animals as possible, and then to say as many words beginning with the letter ‘F’ as they could.
Participants also took part in tests to determine their visuospatial ability, which included copying a complex design and drawing a clock face from memory.
It was in these two sets of tests that participants who engaged in weekly sexual activity scored the most highly, with the verbal fluency tests showing the strongest effect.
This study expanded on previous research from 2016, which found that older adults who were sexually active scored higher on cognitive tests than those who were not sexually active.
Lead researcher, Dr. Hayley Wright, from Coventry University’s Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement, said: “People don’t like to think that older people have sex; but we need to challenge this conception at a societal level and look at what impact sexual activity can have on those aged 50 and over, beyond the known effects on sexual health and general wellbeing.”