Brazil’s Minister of Health Jose Gomes Temporao recommended people have more sex as part of a healthy lifestyle as his ministry launched a national campaign against hypertension and high blood pressure. Speaking in Brasilia, his country’s capital, Minister Temporao said:
Dance, have sex, keep a stable weight, do physical exercise, and above all measure your blood pressure. It’s not a joke, I’m serious. Getting physical exercise regularly also means having sex, obviously protected sex.
The Health Ministry interviewed 54,000 people and found that the proportion of Brazilians who say their blood pressure is 140/90 or above rose from 21.5 percent in 2006 to 24.4 percent now.
Meanwhile American media outlets raced to round up sexperts for opinions on the minister’s racy recommendations that Brazilians should strive to have sex five times a week.
“Sexual activity provides some degree of modest exercise,” Dr. Jamie Feldman, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, told ABC News, comparing the exercise value of most sexual activity to walking 2 miles per hour on flat ground. “[Sex is] not the same as getting moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day. Some people might like it more than jogging — so in that sense that is helpful.”
“Exercise has to be of a certain duration and intensity,” said Walter R. Thompson, a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and regents professor of Kinesiology & Health at Georgia State University in Atlanta. “As intense as active sex can be, it’s not just as long of a duration to see any physiological benefit in terms of exercise.”
Israel Helfand, sex therapist and marriage counselor, told the New York Daily News that sex could lower blood pressure over time, “but for this to happen, it must be done vigorously.” Helfand also added that sex increases the body’s “happy” hormones such as dopamine and cortisol, and “counteracts depression, improves energy and improves people’s mood.”
Dr. Irwin Goldstein, a clinical professor of surgery at the University of California at San Diego and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Sexual Medicine:
There is an extreme dearth of research in this area. It’s not something the NIH spills millions of dollars into to see how orgasm makes people feel better. There’s only one conclusion you can draw [from recent research] that makes a lot of sense is that God intended us to have sexual activity. … they found … that sexual activity, quality of sex life, and interest in sex were positively associated with good heath in middle age and later in life.
Consultant sexologist Eric Garrison:
… studies show that sex is known to relieve headaches and sinus pressure since it increases blood flow in the head. So the ‘not tonight, I have a headache,’ excuse doesn’t really work.