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Natural Awakenings San Diego

More Sex, Better Brain

Apr 27, 2012 11:43AM ● By Diana Hoppe

It is now estimated there are more than 36 million people in the U.S. over the age of 65 and that many of them will be impacted by cognitive decline and brain atrophy associated with normal aging. Strong evidence indicates that memory and cognitive skills start declining as early as age 50. Studies on aging showed the prevalence of dementia ranges from 5 to 10 percent and that of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) ranges from 12 to 18 percent. This decline in cognitive tasks has a critical impact on the quality of life.

Physical exercise has many health benefits including decreased mortality, improved cardiovascular function, and decreased risk of heart attack. New studies have found that with increased physical activity there is sharper cognitive function, less depression, and a higher quality of life. This effect has been shown in older individuals as well as in individuals who complain of memory difficulty. To maintain a high quality of life and protect brain health, more physical exercise is recommended—and wouldn’t having more sex be a fun way to do this?

How does having more sex help the brain?

With any form of exercise—and let’s face it, sex is a form of exercise—blood flow increases. The increased circulation of blood transports oxygen-enriched blood to the hypothalamus, the center of the brain for memory and learning. A recent review of over 11 studies of aerobic exercise programs for healthy older persons found consistent improvements in thought processing and attention, as well as memory, language and visual-spatial skills. One study done followed over 5,900 women (more than 65 years old) for 6 to 8 years with baseline self-report exercise measures. Women with a greater physical activity level (miles walked per week) at baseline experienced markedly less cognitive decline compared to those with less exercise.

So start making more time for physical intimacy—it will help your heart and your brain!

Dr. Diana Hoppe is a board certified OB/GYN and the author of Healthy Sex Drive, Healthy You: What Your Libido Reveals about your Life. She is also the medical director and principal investigator of Pacific Coast Research which conducts clinical research trials in the field of women’s health. Her office is located at 317 El Camino Real, Encinitas. For more information, call 760-635-5600 or visit

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