Exercise impacts mental as well as physical health, which both directly affect a man’s interest in sex and his ability to get an erection.
Whilst exercise alone does not compare to the effectiveness of prescription medication, it can be an effective means of treating erectile dysfunction (ED), and can prevent it occurring in the first place. We take a look at exactly how exercise can help treat ED, including exercises you can try to help strengthen your erection.
1. Improves circulation to your penis
Since an erection depends on a network of blood vessels to trap blood in your penile tissue, any disturbances to this system or the blood flow it receives can result in ED.
Exercise helps to maintain blood circulation to this region and strengthens your heart so it can pump blood more effectively when at rest. As you exercise, your blood vessels dilate and more capillaries open so that blood can effectively be moved to where it is needed. Much of this blood is routed via the genital region, opening the network of vessels which feed the penis. The region will receive an improved circulation as a result even when your body is at rest, and increased blood flow to the skin itself brings the added benefit of greater sensitivity.
2. Strengthens muscles involved in maintaining erections
Targeted exercises can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which contribute to the hardness of an erection. The main muscle in question is called the bulbocavernosus muscle and is located between your frontal pubic bone and anus. It aids blood flow to the penis and can help stop blood from leaving the penis once it’s erect.
Studies have shown that performing regular kegel exercises which target pelvic floor muscles can help reduce ED within a few months. As well as being a practical solution to reverse ED, performing kegels can help protect against the condition developing in the first place.
Read our guide on how to perform kegel exercises.
3. Reduces health problems causing ED
Approximately 70% of all ED cases are the result of underlying health issues, but regular exercise can help reduce your risk of developing these. The main culprits are heart disease, diabetes, and atherosclerosis (hardened arteries), but exercise can keep the main risk factors for these health problems in check.
- Exercise lowers blood pressure – a consistently high blood pressure (hypertension) can damage your arteries and cause them to harden, limiting the flow of blood to the penis and leading to cardiovascular problems. Exercise works to reduce the force required to pump blood around your body, protecting your artery linings as a result. You should aim to have a blood pressure less than 140/90mm Hg.
- Strengthens your heart – ED is one of the earliest signs of a heart problem, but exercise directly affects your heart’s health. Your heart is a muscle and exercise can strengthen it by making it pump more effectively.
- Lowers blood sugar – uncontrolled blood sugar levels can lead to type-2 diabetes which causes serious damage to blood vessels and limits the flow of blood to the penis. Exercising will make your muscles absorb more glucose from the blood, causing your blood sugar level to stay low.
- Helps maintain a healthy weight – Exercise is a crucial strategy for maintaining a healthy weight. Obesity puts extra strain on your heart, and contributes to diabetes and vascular disease. As discussed above, both these conditions are linked to a reduced blood flow to the penis.
4. Addresses psychological contributors to ED
Exercise can help you get in the mood. The endorphins released by exercise can boost your sense of wellbeing, often increasing your libido as a result.
Investing time in your body by exercising is an important means of addressing psychological issues which may be contributing to your ED. Low self-esteem and body image can feed into sexual dysfunction, but exercise can be a great way of helping you improve self-image and work to overcome these psychological barriers to intimacy.
However, if your ED has a deeper psychological cause you may want to consider therapy for ED.
Want to get started?
Pumped to start exercising but not sure how to get back into it? Together with rugby star Matt Dawson, we’ve put together a 4-week exercise plan to get you back into the swing of things.
We’ve also put together a few tips on how you can boost your heart’s health.
If you suffer from long-term ED, exercise may not be enough.
Compare the most effective ED prescription medications available.