Now and then some sound health advice comes along that is easy to embrace. We've always surmised that regular lovemaking can make you look and feel younger, reduce stress, fight depression and improve the quality of your sleep. Recent studies show that frequent sex can also decrease the risk for heart attacks and boost the immune system.

According to the American Journal of Cardiology and the British Medical Journal, men who make love at least twice a week are much less likely to have heart disease than those whose sexual encounters are limited to once a month or less. In fact, some studies have suggested that regular sex can reduce heart attack risks by up to 45 percent. It can also lower blood pressure, mitigate migraine pain and decrease the risk of having a stroke.

Researchers believe the benefits of sex are due to both the physical and emotional effects on the body. Sex, especially sex associated with a committed relationship, causes a change in neurochemicals and hormones that promote good health. Satisfying sex triggers the hormone DHEA which boosts the immune system. Having sex once or twice a week promotes high levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A which offers protection from infections.

Having sex and orgasms boosts levels of oxytocin which encourages endorphins. This results in less pain from conditions such a migraines, PMS, arthritis pain, fibromyalgia and other ailments. Sexual activity also boosts testosterone levels which promotes stronger bones and muscles.

From an emotional standpoint, satisfying intimacy boosts self-esteem. Sex with a caring partner helps you feel attractive, connected and loved, all of which help us feel better about ourselves. It also helps prevent depression. Studies have shown that sexually active seniors are the happiest men and women of any age group.

Although sex has strong health benefits it can potentially do you more harm than good if you do not engage in safe sexual activity. If you are not in a monogamous relationship it is important to use condoms to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Having unprotected sex can lead to a variety of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and AIDS. Approximately 19 million new HIV infections are reported in the United States each year.

It's also important to be considerate of your partner's needs. For sex to be truly satisfying, both participants need to be "in the mood" and feel good about the person they are with and the circumstances in which intimacy is experienced.

The bottom line is that as long as you do it safely and considerately, sexual intercourse can improve both the quality and the length of your life. So join your partner for frequent romantic interludes that enhance your life both physically and emotionally.