February 11, 2020
Have you already given up on your New Year’s resolution to get serious about diet and exercise? Need a new reason to kick-start your healthy lifestyle?
How about sex?
My advocacy for the health of men over age 50 is centered on the social motivators that comprise a man’s most important relationships. The factors that have the power to drive and sustain healthy behavior include family, career, hobbies and the like.
While perhaps less visible, one factor that is certain to be among a man’s aspirations, even as he ages, is a fulfilling sex life. A slew of literature suggests that sexual activity remains a major desire of men over 50, and, thankfully, a goal that can be achieved well into your 80s!
A common denominator amid all the expert advice on the subject? Live healthy. Here’s a rundown of what men need to know about sex and how a healthy lifestyle can help you stay sexually active.
Writing for AARP, Michael Castleman, a journalist who also pens a sex blog for Psychology Today, states that while a man’s ability to enjoy the pleasure sex provides remains, it’s important to recognize that sex changes in many ways after 50.
He cites the potential for slower erections, which may or may not constitute erectile disfunction, as well as medical conditions that may impair traditional relations. However, Castleman points out several strategies to help men cope with these challenges as well as those that may afflict their aging partners. He highlights the contention that older couples may actually be more sexually in sync compared to their younger counterparts.
Sex and physical health go hand-in-hand. They produce a synergy with incredible benefits for men. Like others, the Mayo Clinic reminds us that sex isn’t just for the young. It can be fulfilling for men as they get older. But it’s the mutually supportive relationship between sex and health that holds the promise of sustained inspiration for healthy practices.
A healthy sex life is good for your physical health and self-esteem, according to the Mayo Clinic. Because poor health can have a big impact on your sexual performance, their advice for maintaining a healthy sex life is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, limit alcohol intake and don’t smoke.
Like the rhythm of healthy living I’ve seen in other dimensions of life, these experts reinforce the power of healthy rituals. Staying in shape helps to minimize negative impacts on your health which can support your sex life. In turn, sex provides motivation to maintain the healthy practices. It’s a treadmill (pardon the pun) you’ll want to be on.
So, how does this sex-fitness relationship work? WebMD provides some practical examples. Exercise strengthens muscles, preventing mood killing back or muscle pain. It improves your mood, releasing chemicals in your brain that make you feel better and more at ease. Regular exercise keeps your body looking its best, giving you confidence and a boost to your sex life. They even suggest that men who exercise are less likely to have problems with erectile disfunction.
On a recent podcast I suggested that New Year’s resolutions didn’t work, citing data that 92% will be history by mid-February. I characterized such pronouncements as artificial with no strong connection or meaning to one’s personal circumstances.
Instead, I recommended an alternative trigger, one with a more personal purpose tied to factors with a close emotional bond. Something with much greater potential to “stick.” Now, while the examples I used on that podcast to promote diet and exercise were more G-rated, improving your sex life certainly fits the bill for a strong personal reason to jump-start your fitness regimen.
So, if the thought of an improved sex life has you thinking about recommitting to your health, start by reviewing the diet and exercise guidelines of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They’re a great benchmark from which to build a lifestyle and a platform which you can discuss with your doctor. On diet, the federal guidelines recommend that adults eat at least 1½ to 2 cups per day of fruit and 2 to 3 cups per day of vegetables.
For exercise, adults should engage in 2 hours and 30 minutes every week of moderately-intense aerobic activity, such as a brisk walk. They also should do muscle-strengthening exercises at least twice a week, working all major muscle groups – legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms.
As a mature man, sex takes on a new meaning. Compared to earlier stages in life, it can be more complex and potentially challenging. Nevertheless, it can have increased meaning as we age and serve as a way to stay close to our partners, extend our emotional bonds and achieve the fulfillment we seek in our relationships. It keeps us feeling young and promotes the health and happiness we all seek.
Yes, it’s a motivator like nothing else.
Louis Bezich, senior vice president of strategic alliances at Cooper University Health Care, is author of "Crack The Code: 10 Proven Secrets that Motivate Healthy Behavior and Inspire Fulfillment in Men Over 50."