Older adults who frequently engage in sexual activity were found to have to higher cognitive function, including memory, language skills, and spatial and visual awareness.
The study by the universities of Coventry and Oxford found sexually active adults scored higher on tests that measured their verbal fluency and their ability to visually perceive objects.
A group of 73 people aged 50 to 83 took part in a series of tests for the study and were also asked to complete a questionnaire about how often they were sexually active.
The tests included tasks such as naming as many animals as possible or as many words beginning with a certain letter and drawing a clock face from memory.
Researchers at Coventry and Oxford university’s found that the ones who had the most sex scored highest in the tests.
Lead researcher Dr Hayley Wright, of the University of Coventry’s Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement, said: “We can only speculate whether this is driven by social or physical elements – but an area we would like to research further is the biological mechanisms that may influence this.
“Every time we do another piece of research we are getting a little bit closer to understanding why this association exists at all, what the underlying mechanisms are, and whether there is a ’cause and effect’ relationship between sexual activity and cognitive function in older people.
“People don’t like to think that older people have sex – but we need to challenge this conception at a societal level and look at what impact sexual activity can have on those aged 50 and over, beyond the known effects on sexual health and general wellbeing.”
In the study, the group which said they had sex weekly scored on average two percentage points higher than those who had it monthly and four points higher than those who never had sex.
This study expanded on previous research from 2016, which found that older adults who were sexually active scored higher on cognitive tests than those who were not sexually active.
But this time the research looked more specifically at the impact of the frequency of sexual activity and also used a broader range of tests to investigate different areas of cognitive function.