"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," Dr. Hayley Wright says in a press release. Wright and her fellow researchers published a study Wednesday in the Journals of Gerontology that found older adults who reported having more-frequent sex also scored better on tests measuring verbal fluency and the ability to accurately see objects and spaces between them. The study looked at 73 people between the ages of 50 and 83. The Independent reports 37 subjects had sex weekly over the past year, 26 had sex monthly, and 10 hadn't had any sex.
The subjects having sex weekly scored an average of two percentage points higher on the tests than those having sex monthly and four percentage points higher than those having no sex. The biggest improvement was in verbal fluency, in this instance measured by having subjects name as many words staring with the letter F and animals as possible within a time limit. Wright says it's unclear whether the link between sex and improved brain function is due to "social or physical elements," and more research is needed. For older people for whom sex isn't an option for whatever reason, the Toronto Sun reports exercise, managing blood pressure, and some brain games have been shown to help maintain brain function. (Two ways video games affect a man's sex drive.)