Sex isn’t all fun and games; science says there are plenty of incredible health benefits from sex, too. Having sex can relieve stress, improve sleep, lower blood pressure, boost your immunity, and of course make you feel more connected to and and intimate with your partner. And according to new research, the good news doesn’t stop there. Having sex at least once a week can also safeguard your DNA and help you live longer, scientists say.
In the study, researchers at the University of California in San Francisco tracked the sex lives of a group of 129 mothers in relationships for one week. The participants provided a daily report of their overall relationship satisfaction, as well as instances of conflict, support, and/or intimacy with their partners.
When the researchers compared the women’s reports to their blood samples, they found a fascinating pattern. Mothers who had sex with their partners at least once during that week had significantly longer telomeres—protective cap on DNA strands and the part of a cell responsible for aging—than those who did not.
What do telomeres have to do with a longer life? Over time, the telomeres found in your cells break down as a result of aging, poor diet, and high alcohol use, the researchers said. But these results show that regular sex can repair and lengthen them, keeping your cells healthy and young.
Such a small study warrants further research, of course. And there are plenty of other science-backed ways to extend your life—so don’t feel pressured to get frisky.
But considering what happens to your body when you stop having sex, this research might be on to something. Plus, previous studies have also suggested that couples should have sex at least once a week to reap the most rewards. Translation: It can’t hurt to fool around with your partner tonight.
Are you struggling to rekindle your relationship’s spark in the bedroom? Steal these habits of couples with steamy sex lives.