Does More Exercise Reduces Risks of Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is a fairly common sexual disorder that affects more than 30 million American males, over the age of 20 years (1). The condition is characterized by an inability to achieve or sustain an erection during the act of sexual intercourse. Research and clinical study indicates that ED is a complex phenomenon with a multifactorial origin. However, regardless of the pathophysiology, the effects of ED are devastating for the mental and emotional health of affected male and his relationships.
According to a study reported in the peer reviewed the Journal of Sexual Medicine (1), investigators suggested that moderate physical activity can improve sexual vigor, libido and sexual performance.
How Does Exercise Help In Reducing The Risk Of Erectile Dysfunction?
Exercise has immense health benefits. Here is how it helps in restoring your libido and sexual functions in the bedroom.
1. Weight Loss:
It has been observed that obesity is a leading cause of ED. Clinical data indicates that the prevalence of ED in obese males is 79% (1). Several research and clinical studies have indicated that moderate weight loss can improve sexual and erectile functions. For example, according to a new study reported in the Journal of American Medical Association (1) investigators suggested that a significant reduction in the body mass index of 110 obese men over a course of 2 years helped in improving the erectile functions. In addition, the study sample also manifested improvement in the serum levels of several inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin- 6 (IL-6).
Exercise also helps tremendously in the regulation of metabolism and improvement of self-image and esteem; thereby improving sexual function and performance in the bedroom.
2. Relieving Stress:
Stress is a major killer of libido. In addition, ED and stress has a dual relationship; such that ED causes stress and more stress worsens ED. Research indicates that regular physical activity relieves stress and improves stamina that translates into healthy physical action in the bedroom. Same is true for other emotional disorders like anxiety, depression and panic disorders as suggested by a study reported in the International Journal of Impotence Research (2). Fortunately, moderate physical activity can improve the overall quality of mental health by restoring hormonal and neurotransmitter balance.
3. Improving Circulation:
Exercise improves the overall circulation of blood by improving the integrity of vascular network. This improved circulation directly helps in restoring normal sexual vigor and energy in men.
4. Restoring normal hormonal balance:
Decline in the serum levels of testosterone can greatly impair the libido and sexual functions. Clinical data indicates that moderate exercise improves the serum levels of testosterone.
How Much Exercise Should Be Performed To Restore Normal Erectile Functions?
It is difficult to ascertain what and how much physical activity is required to improve the sexual functions since there is no universal rule. Investigators define moderate physical activity (or exercise) as 18 METS/ week or metabolic equivalent; a physical measurement system that is based on the amount of energy an individual consume during workout. 18 MET equals:
- Strenuous physical activity such as swimming or running for two hours
- Moderate physical fitness training for a period of 3.5 hours
- Light physical activity such as walking for a period of 6 hours
Additionally, it is very important to avoid over-exertion; since fatigue can worsen your sexual performance. It is always a good idea to gradually build your stamina with aerobic activities at first. In this regard, speaking to a physical trainer or physician is of pivotal importance. Besides exercise, it is also advised:
- To see the help of a professional to ascertain the primary cause of ED. If your ED is due to a pharmacological agent (such as antidepressants, antihypertensive agents etc.), switching the drug can help resolve the ED.
- If you are suffering from a chronic medical or mental illness such as diabetes, hypertension, depression etc. it is strongly advised to control the disease (with medications or other therapies). Study reported in the Urology (3) journal suggested that although damage caused by smoking, alcohol consumption and chronic diseases cannot be reversed, yet incorporation of healthy lifestyle choices such as physical activity can help a great deal in improving the overall quality of life.
- If your ED is due to a relationship conflict or other psychological factors; exercise alone may not help. You may need to seek the help of a counsellor/ therapist with your partner for complete resolution of symptoms.
1. Esposito, K., Giugliano, F., Di Palo, C., Giugliano, G., Marfella, R., D’Andrea, F., … & Giugliano, D. (2004). Effect of lifestyle changes on erectile dysfunction in obese men: a randomized controlled trial. Jama, 291(24), 2978-2984.
2. Hedon, F. (2003). Anxiety and erectile dysfunction: a global approach to ED enhances results and quality of life. International journal of impotence research, 15, S16-S19.
3. Derby, C. A., Mohr, B. A., Goldstein, I., Feldman, H. A., Johannes, C. B., & McKinlay, J. B. (2000). Modifiable risk factors and erectile dysfunction: can lifestyle changes modify risk?. Urology, 56(2), 302-306.