Harley Pasternak
February 13, 2013 02:30 PM

As Valentine’s Day draws near, many of you will be wining, dining and romancing your way into someone’s heart. If you’re lucky, things will go well, and you may GET lucky! Not only will you have a fun evening of intimacy, but you may live longer for it.

Here are some of the reasons science tells us sex is good for our bodies, inside and out.

1. Sex Relieves Stress

Perhaps the most enjoyable way to blow off some steam, research has shown that people who are sexually active respond better in stressful situations and have lower levels of overall stress. Sex increases our levels of oxytocin, a stress fighting hormone. In a fascinating study of the effect of intercourse on acute stress, researchers found that people who had sex the night before public speaking, had a reduced pulse increase, and far lower blood pressure than those who had not. Which brings me to No. 2 …

2. Sex Is Good for Your Heart – in More Ways Than One

Over the years, there have been a number of studies shown that sex is good for cardiovascular health. Again and again, it’s been linked to increased circulation, lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. In 2010, Brazil’s minister of health created some serious buzz when he recommended Brazilians have sex five times a week as a countermeasure to the nation’s hypertension epidemic. Sex has also been shown to reduce the chance of heart attack, particularly for men. In a recent groundbreaking study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, men who engaged in intercourse at least twice a week were a staggering 45% less likely to suffer a heart attack than those who had sex once a month or less.

3. Sex Helps You Lose Weight

Sexual activity is exactly that – activity. Thirty minutes of sex burns 200 calories or a pound of body fat for every 17.5 times you have sex.

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4. Sex Helps You Sleep

The oxytocin released during sex leads to pronounced relaxation and sounder sleep. If you’ve read my previous blog on the myriad benefits of a good night’s sleep, you’ll know that better sleep lends itself to reduced body weight, lower stress, increased immunity and overall well-being.

5. Sex Is a Great Pain Reliever

I know that sex might be one of the very last things on your mind when you’re suffering with a migraine, menstrual cramps, or chronic pain, but consider this: sex has been repeatedly linked to alleviating pain, especially in these instances. There’s a distinct relationship between the endorphins, corticosteroids and, yes, oxytocin released during sexual intercourse and pain relief. So next time the ibuprofen or aspirin just isn’t cutting it, consider sex as an alternative therapy!

6. Sex Boosts Your Immune System

Amid this record-breaking flu season, I’m sure I got your attention with this surprising fact! Yes, sex wards off colds, flu, and other infections by increasing the levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A (IgA). It makes sense, then, that sexually active people take fewer sick days than those who abstain.

7. Sex Can Improve Your Relationship

I’m not just talking about your “sex life” when I say that sex can improve your relationship with your significant other. While the obvious is true that you are experiencing mutual pleasure, the benefits go way beyond that.

Let’s come back to good old oxytocin. Oxytocin has been called a “love potion” by many for promoting feelings of intimacy and closeness, but it may also prevent arguments from spiraling out of control. Researchers in Zurich found that sex reduces Cortisol and increases oxytocin, which encourages positive communication and provides a one-two punch against a stressful situation like an argument. Not only that, but fascinating recent research published in The Journal of Neuroscience found that, when given oxytocin, men in committed relationships chose to keep a greater distance between themselves and an unknown woman they find attractive. These findings suggest oxytocin may play a pivotal role in promoting fidelity within monogamous relationships.

8. Sex Improves Your Appearance

Many people focus on looking good in the sack, but did you know the sack can return the favor? Having sex just twice a week increases the hormone DHEA which research suggests can repair tissues, improve skin tone, and even stimulate natural collagen production to fight wrinkles and visible again.

Do you have a healthy sex life? Tweet me @harleypasternak how many times you have sex a month.

Check back every Wednesday for more insider tips from celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak on Hollywood’s hottest bodies – and learn how to get one yourself! Plus: Follow Harley on Twitter at @harleypasternak

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