We all know certain things will increase our chances of living longer, such as exercise, a healthy diet, refraining from smoking and not indulging in too much alcohol.
But while these are all healthy virtuous practices, they’re also quite boring. So, what if we told you there was something more enjoyable you could be doing to live longer?
An interesting new study by scientists in California has found that regular sexual intimacy is associated with a delayed ageing process in women.
They found that women who reported having sex during the course of the week tended to have significantly longer telomeres (the protective end caps on our DNA that protect the chromosome from fraying) than those who didn't.
Now if that’s not an excuse to get frisky more often, we don’t know what is.
Analysing the data from 129 mothers in committed relationships, they found that those who had sex at least once a week had significantly longer telomeres.
They also factored in the women's overall relationship satisfaction, perceived stress levels, and partner support during the study.
However, as this was quite a small study, researchers are unable to determine whether regular sex has the same effect for single women or those who don’t have children.
Researchers say the findings are “generally exploratory” and for now can only be generalised to mums who are in long-term relationships.
When it comes to scientific studies, it’s important to bear in mind that a correlation or a relationship between two or more factors does not always mean causation.
In this case, it’s important to be aware of the “self-selection bias”, meaning healthy women with longer telomere length may be more likely to have regular sex regardless, rather than the opposite cause and effect relationship.
Scientists are now keen to carry out a similar study with men to see if they find the same results.
“There are many exciting questions to ask regarding sexual intimacy’s role in health,” lead researcher Tomas Cabeza de Baca told PsyPost. “One major question involves hypothesising how the effects of sexual intimacy may translate to better health.
“There are many physiological and psychosocial mechanisms that may mediate the sex-telomere relationship.
"For instance, we proposed that sexual intimacy may dampen the effects of stress by down-regulating stress response systems and up-regulating immune response. Over time, these patterns of stress function should result in longer telomere length.”
There you have it mums, time to lock the bedroom door!