Sunday, May 29, 2011

The health benefits of having an active sex life

By Michael Castleman for our content partner: Live Right Live Well

Years ago, Marvin Gaye’s hit, “Sexual Healing,” touted the emotional benefits of lovemaking. But research shows sex can improve physical health as well. So what are the health benefits of sex?

Boosts Immune System
Sex is moderate exercise. Since regular moderate exercise is known to boost immune function, researchers at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., wondered if lovemaking might do the same. After asking 112 college students how often they had sex, the scientists analyzed samples of the students’ saliva for immunoglobulin A (IgA), a key component of the immune system that helps fight infection. The result: Those who had sex once or twice a week showed significantly higher levels of IgA than those who had sex less often. “Moderately frequent sex enhances immune function and may help prevent illnesses, such as the common cold,” concludes lead researcher and professor of psychology Carl Charnetski.

Lowers Blood Pressure

In a study conducted by the University of Tubingen in Germany and the University of the West of Scotland, researchers asked 51 healthy men and women how often they had sex. After the researchers measured the participants’ blood pressure, they found that as sexual frequency increased, blood pressure decreased. Another study from the University of the West of Scotland showed the same result.

Reduces Risk of Heart Attack
Many men worry that having sex might trigger a heart attack. British researchers at the University of Bristol followed 914 men for up to 20 years and found the opposite. “Middle-aged men should be heartened to know that frequent sexual intercourse … [offers] some protection from fatal coronary events,” concludes lead researcher Shah Ebrahim.

Lowers Risk of Prostate Cancer
National Cancer Institute researchers tracked 29,342 men and found that the more often the men ejaculated, the lower their risk of prostate cancer. Those who reported 21 or more ejaculations a month during their 20s were 33 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer later in life than those who reported only seven ejaculations per month.

Relieves Pain
Sex helps relieve pain in two ways: First, it’s an enjoyable distraction that helps people focus less on their pain. Second, as a form of gentle exercise, sex releases endorphins, the body’s own pain-relieving compounds. In fact, the Arthritis Foundation recommends regular sex to help manage the pain of osteoarthritis, one of the nation’s most prevalent causes of chronic pain.

Deepens Relaxation

Meditative relaxation has been shown to help treat an enormous number of physical ailments, including pain problems, asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and arthritis. What does this have to do with sex? Sex-related deep-breathing and orgasms are deeply relaxing. So is the whole-body sensual massage that is a part of good sex. In fact, the deep relaxation obtained through sex is very similar to the physiologic relaxation that results from meditation, yoga, tai chi and other stress-management regimens, says Marty Klein, a certified sex therapist, licensed marriage and family therapist, and nationally recognized sex educator based in Palo Alto, Calif. As a result, regular sex with a loving partner offers health and relaxation benefits that are similar to those of massage and other relaxation techniques, he concludes.

Improves Longevity

Immune enhancement, deep relaxation, lower blood pressure and reduced risk of heart attack and prostate cancer are all associated with longer life. Does this mean regular sex can extend life? Yes! At least that’s what British scientists at the University of Bristol concluded from a study of some 900 middle-aged men with no significant differences in age, weight, blood pressure or history of smoking or heart disease. The only real difference was how often the men had sex -- and those who had sex twice a week had half the death rate of those who had sex once a month or less. The researchers’ conclusion: Sex helps prevent death in middle-aged men.

Of course, no one makes love simply to improve health. But the health benefits of sex are an undeniable bonus. And if you like making love to music, play “Sexual Healing.” It’s a catchy tune -- and it’s true!

Michael Castleman has been a sex educator and sex counselor since 1973. He is the publisher of and the author of Sexual Solutions: For Men and the Women Who Love Them and Great Sex: A Man's Guide to the Secrets of Whole-Body Sensuality.

Movies which will inspire you to get a better personality and to be a better man

By Mike Hammer for our content partner: Men's Life Today, India

Looking for a get-smart shortcut? The right mix of flicks will serve as a veritable Cinema U: You can really learn something by watching them. Here’s our brain-boosting lineup.
Where can you find a better blueprint for life than the movies? These days we look to cinematic fiction for answers to life’s most perplexing questions, such as, Where else can an over-the-hill fat dude like Jack Nicholson be paid zillions to parody himself again?

Ah, but we digress. Educationally speaking, the movies don’t just lecture you like a burned-out, tenured professor: They put you in the action. Plus the movies can out-multimedia just about any lecture class. Watch enough of the right flicks, and you may just qualify for a degree in business, politics, sociology -- even grifting. And think how far all that will go when time comes to make career choices, sound witty at social mixers and impress a worthy lady.

Yes, Cinema U is officially in session. These flicks are packed with smart bombs that’ll serve you well for the rest of your life. Watch and learn:


Check It out:

John Cusack is a U.S. intelligence operative desperately trying to find his missing American buddy in Shanghai just days before the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. As he frantically tries to find his friend, the search is complicated by local gangsters, Japanese invaders, a Chinese chick (Gon Li) who runs sweet and sour on him, and the realization that he’s not sure he can trust his own government.

The Smart Bomb
Cusack’s undercover navigation of pre-war Shanghai reveals a fascinating, culturally rich -- but also slightly seamy -- melting-pot community we never knew existed. The film shows that pre-World War II Shanghai was an international community of refugees, artists, spies, and best of all, breathtakingly beautiful Gon Lis.

Also …
Creativity cannot be stifled. Shanghai’s international community was the birthplace of China’s thriving film industry, which was squashed by the Japanese occupation during the war. The industry clandestinely slipped out of what became Red China and off to Hong Kong to give birth to the careers of our favorite imports: Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.


Check It out:

Based on the wildly popular 1998 graphic novel, Whiteout is the story of the world’s hottest United States marshal (Kate Beckinsale), who is, um, hot on the trail of the first and only serial killer in the world’s coldest place, Antarctica. The problem? Winter is only three days away (so forget about seeing Kate slip into a bikini at the polar ice cap). Also, with winter come six months of darkness … in which she would be stuck with the Abominable Snowciopath.

The Smart Bomb
Geography meets criminal justice studies meets ice-onography. The story offers the eye-opening and groin-freezing scenario in which we see how U.S. marshals are the only law enforcement agency charged with protecting the world’s largest and least inviting continent. When Carrie Stetko (Beckinsale) is sent to the most isolated, barren and scariest landmass on earth to shut down a serial killer terrorizing a U.S. research base, she has to do it in temperatures that drop to 120 F below 0, winds that will rip your skin off at up to 200 mph and a serious absence of backup when the bodies begin to pile up -- all of which leads us to wonder who her high school career counselor was.

Also …
In the original graphic novel, Stetko was a little overweight and got a bit of help from a female U.N. investigator … with whom (it was implied) she melts a little ice. In the film, though, the investigator is a dude (actor Garbiel Macht). Maybe we should go back to using comics as reference books.

The Informant

Check It out:

Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) was bored working at an Illinois food processing company. So, more to make himself feel important than to actually help anybody, Whitacre goes undercover for the FBI to uncover his company’s massive price-fixing scandal -- while he’s in the midst of stealing $9 million bucks himself. True story.

The Smart Bomb
Aside from focusing on Whitacre’s clueless efforts to be a hero, this story offers riveting detail about how the food industry holds not only your tummy hostage but also your wallet. In real life, Whitacre wore a wire for three years and helped record video footage of high-level meetings, where execs conspired with each other to set food additive prices well above market value so they could stuff their pockets as you stuff your face.

Also …
Elaborate FBI stings follow white-collar crime everywhere -- even in boring industries. That’s right: Somebody’s making dough by charging too much for, um, dough. So if you’re jacking up the sugar packets at your local 7-Eleven, watch your back, Jack. And if you’re going to be an informant, you may want to avoid being a thief while working for the man. Whitacre’s prison term was three times longer than that of the guys he helped nab.

Capitalism: A Love Story

Check It out:

Michael Moore, that hefty dude with the baseball cap and suspicious nature, celebrates the 20th anniversary of his breakout film Roger & Me -- about the suspicious collapse of the auto industry -- with a new film about the suspicious collapse of the overall economy. The new flick takes a comical look at the corporate and political high jinks that culminated in what Moore has described as “the biggest robbery in the history of this country”: the massive transfer of U.S. taxpayer money to private financial institutions to bail out fat guys with billion-dollar bonuses.

The Smart Bomb
Forget smart bomb -- this one’s an all-out genius bomb: A study of economics, politics, business and thievery all in one! Were this one to translate to college credits, you could cash it in for a quadruple major.

As in his previous documentaries, Moore blindsides his targets when they least expect it. Here, he corners top corporate and banking executives as they fly to their private islands on personal jets that they bankrolled with bonuses they set aside for themselves -- despite managing funds that bankrupted investors. Then Moore gets them to not explain how they can live with themselves on our money.

Also …
Moore details how these guys siphoned funds, pensions, savings and more while the people who trusted them with their life savings went broke. So if you’re up to no good, you may want to stay on Moore’s good side.

More Than a Game

Check It out: 

This documentary follows five poor kids from Akron, Ohio, through their high school hoop careers. Not unusual, except when you consider that one, LeBron James, has gone on to become the world’s best player and that they wind up playing for the national championship.

The Smart Bomb
The kids are shown dealing with the pressures of poverty, publicity that comes with competing in the national media spotlight and the heat from that spotlight intensified 100 times because James has been earmarked by the media -- and NBA scouts -- as the best high school player in the cosmos. But despite everybody wanting to get their hands on James, nobody is able to pull these five guys apart. Even when James is banned from a game for allegedly accepting the gift of a car (a no-no he was later cleared of), the kids rely on the bond they formed in Akron to keep them together and help them achieve their individual goals -- as a team.

Also …
Be true and loyal to your friends, and teamwork will always win out. (Of course, it’s easy to win games with LeBron James on your team.)

Take control of your fat belly -- Use these tips to get a trim stomach

By Ethan Boldt for our content partner: Men's Life Today, India

You've tried it all: cutting down the carbs, eating endless amounts of chicken breast, exercising like mad. So why are those infernal love handles -- not to mention that below-the-belly-button roll of fat -- still there?

In part, we (as in the fitness media) are to blame. There are hundreds of different ways to put muscle on the body, and these workouts are what fitness and muscle magazines love to feature; it sure beats snore-inducing cardio with another shot of someone running on the beach. But unless you want to look like a bodybuilder (and even those guys do plenty of cardio come cutting time), it’s time to step up the cardio. “You’ve got to train like an athlete to look like an athlete,” says Tom Seabourne, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science at Northeast Texas Community College.

In other words, 30 minutes of slow cardio a few times a week is not enough -- unless you’re happy with your current level of fat stores. If you want to access that fat, says Seabourne, you’ve got to do the right kind of cardio (intervals twice a week), the right kind of weight training (focusing on each muscle group twice a week), and long slow distance (LSD) cardio two to three times a week -- all while eating enough to support your metabolism.

Each form of exercise is essential if you really want to chisel your body down. You need LSD cardio because after your body burns through the glycogen in your muscles, it burns your fat stores next. And while interval training doesn’t burn as much fat during exercise, it burns more calories afterward -- just like strength training does.

Seabourne points out that some guys over-train on LSD cardio while eating too little and neglecting intervals or weights -- therefore slowing their metabolisms and holding on to that stubborn fat. Other guys do a lot of weights and short bouts of cardio, then eat tons of food in order to build muscle -- so their fat stores remain steady or even increase.

The following program was designed by Seabourne to give you the best of both worlds (i.e., recruit more than enough muscle while forcing those stubborn fat stores to surrender, at last).

Follow this program six weeks on and one week off, depending on your body’s ability to avoid over-training mode (in which gains come to a screeching halt while muscle soreness and overall fatigue increase). For some, three weeks may be all you can handle without a break. For others, 12 weeks works.

You probably have this covered, but here’s a guideline: Lose the bodybuilding program with all the isolation lifts and the absurd amount of exercise sets per body part (e.g., 15 sets of chest). Instead, go with upper-body on Monday and Thursday, then lower-body on Tuesday and Friday -- but only with about 20-30 minutes for each weight-training workout. Aim for two to three sets of two exercises for the major body parts (chest, shoulders, back, quadriceps and core) and two to three sets of one exercise for the smaller body parts (triceps, biceps, hamstrings and calves).

Interval Cardio
Complete two 20- to 30-minute bouts of cardio per week. Always start with a warm-up and end with a cooldown. Examples include:

  • On a heavy bag: Three minutes of effort + one-minute recoveries
  • On a stationary cycle: 10 cycles of 15-second sprints + 45-second recoveries
  • On a treadmill or outside on a grass field: 10 cycles of 10-second sprints + 50-second recoveries
LSD Cardio
Because of the length of each session (60 to 90 minutes), Seabourne’s preference for LSD is nonimpact. “For some, impact LSD, like jogging, can cause unhelpful muscle breakdown -- whereas cycling will not,” he explains.

An LSD cycling, elliptical or stair-climbing program can begin with an hour. Add two minutes a week until you’re moving for 90 minutes. Any more than 90 minutes and you'll need a snack to replenish glycogen stores.