Exercises to Help Erectile Dysfunction

Do you find it challenging to achieve an erection or maintain it long enough for pleasurable intercourse?

Erection problems are common but largely manageable. What is the role of exercise for ED?

Are there any specific erectile dysfunction exercises you can do? Read on to learn more.

Can exercise help erectile dysfunction?

If you are to look for tips to manage erectile dysfunction, you’ll probably come across suggestions to exercise more. Does exercise really work? The short answer would be – yes. In fact, science confirms it.

The British Journal of Sports Medicine published a review of studies about the efficacy of exercise on erectile dysfunction management. The review included seven studies with a total of 478 participants. Results showed a statistically significant improvement in erectile function score. A benefit from exercise was detected in both short- and long-term interventions.

Scientists concluded that current evidence confirms the effectiveness of physical activity and exercise interventions for the management of ED. Aerobic exercise with moderate-to-vigorous intensity was particularly beneficial. 

A paper from the Sexual Medicine journal reported that continuous and interval-based aerobic training could improve erectile function for men with arterial ED. In other words, cardio exercise could benefit men whose ED is a result of problems affecting blood flow.

Physical activity with moderate intensity and intervals is one of the main elements in determining the effectiveness of the applied physical exercise. Strength training can complement aerobic exercise. Basically, resistance training (or strength training) could also benefit men with erectile problems. As you can see, getting more exercise is a great ED treatment.

For the best results, it’s ideal for exercising 40 minutes four times a week for at least six months. This approach could improve erectile function in men with arterial ED caused by obesity, physical inactivity, hypertension (high blood pressure), metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. After all, physical exercise (mainly cardio) can help you slim down and also improves heart health. Everything good for your heart is also good for your penis. The reason is simple, both the heart and the penis require proper blood flow to function. 

Exercise could help manage erectile dysfunction through several mechanisms:

  • Increased testosterone levels – declining testosterone levels can contribute to erectile problems. Testosterone increases the expression of nitric oxide and phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5), both of which are crucial enzymes for the erectile process. Low testosterone could contribute to decreased expression of these enzymes, thus interrupting erectile function. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels so that blood flows smoothly to the genital area and produces engorgement, i.e., erection.

    Testosterone is also an essential modulator of physical activity. This hormone takes part in your stamina, muscle growth, fat burning, energy levels, and other factors that influence your athletic performance. Keeping testosterone levels in balance is a viable strategy for the management of ED. Exercise, especially aerobic training, can help increase testosterone levels naturally. 

  • Weight loss – excess weight is a strong risk factor for erectile dysfunction. Since the prevalence of overweight and obesity are high, it’s not such a surprise that many men experience erectile problems. Managing excess weight is an important therapeutic approach for men with ED. As you’re aware, regular exercise is crucial for weight loss. Hormonal balance and improved blood flow are some of the many results of weight loss, and both of them are necessary for stronger erections. 

  • Improved blood circulation – your blood flow can decrease for various reasons, including vascular disease, cardiovascular diseases, atherosclerosis, among other things. A decrease in blood flow to the penis affects the quality of erections.

    To achieve an erection, impulses from the brain and local nerves cause the corpora cavernosa to relax. In turn, blood flows and fills the open spaces. A reminder – corpora cavernosa are two chambers that run the length of the penis and are filled with spongy tissue. Exercise is a great way to improve blood flow and thereby help you get an erection.

  • Stress management – cortisol (stress hormone) and testosterone act in a seesaw manner-high cortisol results in lower testosterone and vice versa. So when you don’t manage stress, levels of cortisol remain high, thus affecting testosterone. This could impair not only your erectile function but sexual desire as well. Stress is an enemy of strong and hard erections. Exercise can be a wonderful stress management solution, but you should avoid overtraining. 

Exercises for ED

As you can see, regular exercise is one of the most important strategies for men with erectile difficulties. Below, we are going to discuss exercises you can do.

Kegel exercises

Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor exercises, strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder, bowel, and rectum. These muscles also affect a man’s sexual function. Many factors can contribute to weak pelvic floor muscles, including:

  • Prostate cancer treatment e.g., radical prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate due to prostate cancer)

  • Overactive bladder

  • Diabetes

  • Constipation

  • Being overweight

  • Surgery for bowel or bladder problems

  • Persistent heavy lifting

  • Long-term and persistent coughing such as asthma, bronchitis, or smoker’s cough

  • Aging 

Most people think pelvic floor exercise is for women only. Men can (and should) do them too to improve pelvic floor strength. These exercises help men with urinary incontinence and dribbling after urination. They can do so much more than that. They work for sexual problems such as premature ejaculation, too.

In fact, Kegels can help you manage erectile dysfunction successfully. One study explored the effectiveness of Kegels and manometric biofeedback in the treatment of ED. The study included 55 men who were randomized into two groups.

One group had to do Kegel exercises and received biofeedback alongside suggestions for lifestyle changes. The other group only received advice about lifestyle modifications. Three months later, men from the first (intervention) group showed significant increases in erectile function. The improvements persisted at six months of the follow-up, as well. Scientists concluded that pelvic floor muscle exercise and biofeedback could be an effective treatment for men with ED.

Pelvic floor exercises may seem complicated, but they are not. Before you start performing the exercises, you need to locate the right muscles first. We are talking about bulbocavernosus muscle, a muscle of the perineum. In men, this muscle surrounds the bulb, i.e., the enlarged inner end of the structure that surrounds the urethra. A man can contract this muscle to expel the last drops of semen or urine.

The best way to locate pelvic floor muscles is to try and stop stream several times during urination. The muscles you use to stop the urine stream are the targets of Kegel exercise. Once you locate the muscles, you’re ready to perform the Kegels. To perform pelvic exercises, you need to squeeze or clench those muscles and hold for about five seconds. Then unclench or relax them. Repeat this exercise 10 or 12 times two to three times a day.

When you practice basic Kegels and find them easy to do, you can increase the number of reps from time to time. You can also do variations of these exercises. Useful examples are below.

Lying down Kegels

  • Lie down with the knees bent, feet flat on the ground, and arms by your sides

  • Exhale and clench pelvic floor muscles

  • Count to three

  • Inhale and unclench or release for a count of three

Sitting exercises

  • Sit with the feet flat on the ground hip-width apart and arms at the sides

  • Clench pelvic floor muscles for a count of three 

  • Release for a count of three 

When performing this exercise, you need to make sure the muscles of the stomach, buttocks, and legs are not contracting.

Standing exercises

  • Stand straight with arms at your sides and feet hip-width apart

  • Clench pelvic floor muscles and count to three

  • Release for a count of three 

The same as with the exercise above – ensure the muscles of the stomach, buttocks, and legs are not contracting.

Pelvic floor exercises may be challenging at first, but you need to be consistent and do them regularly. With a little bit of practice, these exercises will be easy to perform. Plus, they can do wonders for your erectile function. If you want to restore normal erectile function, you may not want to ignore these exercises.

Pelvic floor muscle training is a type of activity you can do anywhere. Regular exercises can help you improve sexual performance but also support the function of the urinary tract.

Cardio training 

Cardio training is beneficial for men with erectile dysfunction. Above in this post, you had the opportunity to see that many studies confirm the effectiveness of aerobic exercise of moderate-to-vigorous intensity. This type of training is a safe, natural, and easy-to-do erectile dysfunction treatment.

Benefits of aerobic training stem from the fact that blood flow problems are the most common causes of ED. Cardio training improves blood flow and, thereby, supports erectile function.

It’s wise to include aerobic training into your lifestyle. Aerobic training is not just about running. You can also do brisk walking, cycling, spin classes, skipping rope, rowing, boxing, among other things. Each exercise session should be moderate or high intensity. Strive to do aerobic training 30 to 40 minutes three to four times a week.

Pilates exercises

For most men, pilates is a type of training that women do. But certain pilates exercises could also help you manage ED by strengthening pelvic floor muscles. Below, you can take a look at some useful examples.

Knee fallouts

  • Lie down, bend the knees, ensure feet are flat on the ground, and arms by the sides

  • Maintain spine in neutral position i.e.; there should be a small space between the middle of the back and floor. 

  • Exhale and clench pelvic floor muscles

  • Slowly lower one knee to the ground as far as possible while maintaining clenching of the pelvic muscles

  • Inhale, unclench the muscles

  • Bend the knee again

  • Repeat with the other leg

  • Do four to five reps, but build your way up to 10 

Supine foot raises

  • Lie down with the knees bent and feet flat on the ground, arms by your sides

  • Exhale, clench the pelvic muscles, and raise one foot off the ground slowly (spine and pelvis should be still)

  • Inhale, lower the foot on the ground

  • Switch sides

  • Do four to five reps, build your way up to 10

Pelvic curl

  • Lie down with the knees bent, feet flat on the ground, arms by your sides

  • Maintain spine in neutral position (see above)

  • Exhale and clench pelvic floor muscles

  • Tilt the pelvis upward toward your belly button while pressing the back against the ground

  • Lift the buttocks slowly and push the heels into the floor

  • Squeeze the buttocks and lift it, and lower, and middle back (the weight of your body should be resting on your shoulders)

  • Take three breaths and clench pelvic floor muscles and the buttocks

  • Lower buttocks and back slowly to the ground

  • Do four to five reps, build your way up to 10

Other ways to naturally help ED

Erectile dysfunction is a manageable problem. In addition to exercise, you may want to consider the following natural solutions for this sexual dysfunction:

  • Biofeedback – manometric biofeedback involves guiding a patient through series of exercises designed to strengthen and/or retrain the pelvic floor muscles. During biofeedback therapy, you are connected to electrical sensors that help receive information from your body

  • Functional electrical stimulation – a technique that uses low-energy electrical pulses to artificially generate body movements. It is also a safe approach to the management of ED. Electrical stimulation acts on smooth muscles of the cavernous body of the penis and enhances the responsiveness and reaction speed in the smooth muscle 

  • Diet – food you eat plays an important role in the management of ED. Instead of junk food, you should enrich the diet with healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, and other items that deliver vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, proteins, and other nutrients your penis needs for proper function

  • Dietary supplements – nowadays, there are tons of supplements for ED. They contain natural ingredients that help manage ED. Some ingredients may include Panax ginseng, Rhodiola rosea, DHEA, l-arginine, Yohimbe, just to name a few. The supplements are natural alternative to drugs such as sildenafil 

  • Acupuncture – it can improve the quality of erections and restore sexual activity 

Conclusion

Even though erectile dysfunction is a frustrating problem, there’s a lot you can do to manage it. A healthy lifestyle is crucial for the management of ED. Besides a healthy and well-balanced diet, you need to exercise regularly. Kegel exercises, aerobic, strength training, and even pilates can help you out.

Remember, your sexual health depends on lifestyle choices you make. Exercise is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. If you’re not sure what exercises to do or how to do them, you may want to consider having a personal trainer.

Sources

  1. Silva, A. B., Sousa, N., Azevedo, L. F., & Martins, C. (2017). Physical activity and exercise for erectile dysfunction: systematic review and meta-analysis. British journal of sports medicine51(19), 1419–1424. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2016-096418
  2. Gerbild, H., Larsen, C. M., Graugaard, C., & Areskoug Josefsson, K. (2018). Physical Activity to Improve Erectile Function: A Systematic Review of Intervention Studies. Sexual medicine6(2), 75–89. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esxm.2018.02.001
  3. Blute, M., Hakimian, P., Kashanian, J., Shteynshluyger, A., Lee, M., & Shabsigh, R. (2009). Erectile dysfunction and testosterone deficiency. Frontiers of hormone research37, 108–122. https://doi.org/10.1159/000176048
  4. Duca, Y., Calogero, A. E., Cannarella, R., Giacone, F., Mongioi, L. M., Condorelli, R. A., & La Vignera, S. (2019). Erectile dysfunction, physical activity and physical exercise: Recommendations for clinical practice. Andrologia51(5), e13264. https://doi.org/10.1111/and.13264
  5. Yeo, J. K., Cho, S. I., Park, S. G., Jo, S., Ha, J. K., Lee, J. W., Cho, S. Y., & Park, M. G. (2018). Which Exercise Is Better for Increasing Serum Testosterone Levels in Patients with Erectile Dysfunction?. The world journal of men’s health36(2), 147–152. https://doi.org/10.5534/wjmh.17030
  6. Hayes, L. D., Herbert, P., Sculthorpe, N. F., & Grace, F. M. (2017). Exercise training improves free testosterone in lifelong sedentary aging men. Endocrine connections6(5), 306–310. https://doi.org/10.1530/EC-17-0082
  7. Moon, K. H., Park, S. Y., & Kim, Y. W. (2019). Obesity and Erectile Dysfunction: From Bench to Clinical Implication. The world journal of men’s health37(2), 138–147. https://doi.org/10.5534/wjmh.180026
  8. Brownlee, K. K., Moore, A. W., & Hackney, A. C. (2005). Relationship between circulating cortisol and testosterone: influence of physical exercise. Journal of sports science & medicine4(1), 76–83.
  9. Dorey, G., Speakman, M., Feneley, R., Swinkels, A., Dunn, C., & Ewings, P. (2004). Randomised controlled trial of pelvic floor muscle exercises and manometric biofeedback for erectile dysfunction. The British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners54(508), 819–825.
  10. Lamina, S., Agbanusi, E., & Nwacha, R. C. (2011). Effects of aerobic exercise in the management of erectile dysfunction: a meta analysis study on randomized controlled trials. Ethiopian journal of health sciences21(3), 195–201.
Alternative Text

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Founder of ZayedMD, Dr. Ahmed believes in making the knowledge as accessible as possible to patients. He had his work featured in reputable publications such as The Huffington Post. Other than his passion for writing, Dr. Ahmed spends​ his time outside the hospital at the gym or with a good book.

1 Comment

  1. jack mcmillin

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