Exercising is one of the well known practices that could combat the symptoms and effects of sexual dysfunction in men, specifically erectile dysfunction. In this article, we explore the science behind exercise and its connection to alleviating erectile dysfunction. Some of the exercises are easy enough to do at home. It should be noted that even though exercising, some factors may still affect one’s erectile dysfunction that is why it is important to improve one’s lifestyle in general and consult with a doctor.
Can exercise help erectile dysfunction?
Exercise can most definitely improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction. There are several studies showing that changes in lifestyle factors like smoking, eating habits, alcohol consumption and physical activity can significantly improve erectile function and hormonal levels.
Many men are not aware of the impact that exercise can have on erectile dysfunction but almost all experts agree that exercise and movement will improve your erection.
Is any kind of exercise helpful?
There is a Harvard study concluding that 30 minutes of walking a day can reduce the risk for erectile dysfunction by 41%.
According to a study among hypertensive patients with erectile dysfunction, after two months of exercise training for the duration of 45-60 min/ day improved erectile dysfunction compared with patients who had a sedentary lifestyle during the same period.
In a study of 400 participants between 40 and 80 years of age, researchers reported that higher levels of physical activity were associated with higher total male hormone.
It is worth mentioning that even men that faced serious health conditions like prostate cancer experienced positive effects on their sexual health because of adding exercise in their lifestyle.
Exercise can improve erectile dysfunction but there are some specific exercises that can help you improve the function of muscles related to your erection and your male hormone levels.
The science behind ED exercises
According to studies that evaluated the relationship between exercise and erectile dysfunction, moderate and high physical activities were associated with a lower risk of erectile dysfunction.
The way by which physical activity reduces ED, include;
- improved cardiovascular fitness and endothelial dysfunction,
- increase in endothelial-derived Nitrix Oxide,
- decrease in oxidative stress, and others
- improved self-esteem and mental health
Specifically, exercise training consistently improves nitric oxide production. Moreover, it reduces the inflammation that often accompanies erectile dysfunction. Considering the mechanisms that are involved in the worsening of erectile dysfunction, exercise plays an important role in stopping the progression. It decreases inflammatory factors produced by blood cells, the fat tissue, skeletal muscles, and endothelial cells. Moreover, exercise increases the immune system and antioxidant defence, and regenerative capacity of the interior surface of the blood vessels which is important for the proper function of your erections.
The top 5 erectile dysfunction exercises you can do at home
You do not necessarily need equipment to perform exercises that will improve your erectile dysfunction. The most widely known exercises to help with ED are Kegels. They activate specific muscle groups on the floor of the pelvis which are also responsible for urination.
In a study among men, researchers wanted to evaluate a re-education program for erection problems. They concluded that a pelvic-floor muscle program can potentially be an alternative therapy for patients with erectile dysfunction caused by blockages of the small veins.
According to a 2016 study, there is a close relationship between erectile dysfunction and the pelvic floor. There is a potentially positive effect from pelvic floor therapy for men who suffer from erection difficulties.
Here are five of the most important exercises you can do at home:
Activation of the muscles of the pelvic floor
Many people underestimate this exercise because of its simplicity but it is crucial to educate you on the activation of your pelvic floor muscles.
- You must lie down with the knees bent and the feet flat on the floor.
- Your arms are positioned by the sides.
- You count to three after you exhale and squeeze the pelvic floor muscles.
- Then you count to three while inhaling and releasing the muscles.
- While performing these exercises, you try to focus on the muscles at the bottom of the pelvis contracting them and avoiding the contraction of other muscles.
Standing pelvic floor activation
Once you master the lying down version, proceed to the standing pelvic floor activation exercise which can be done anywhere, anytime.
- Initially, you must stand straight having your arms by the sides, while your feet are apart (hip-width).
- In this standing position, you will try to activate the muscles of the pelvic floor as described before counting to three and then releasing muscles counting to three.
- Because of the position of your body you need to be focused to avoid the involvement and use of other muscles of your abs, buttocks, etc.
Sitting pelvic floor activation
This exercise is like the standing one, but it allows you to take control of the pelvic floor muscles in a sitting position.
- You will initially sit with the arms at the sides next to your body and the feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart.
- Using the above-described technique of activation of the pelvic floor muscles, you will activate them for a count of three, and then release for a count of three, making sure that you don’t contract muscles of the stomach, legs, etc.
This is an effective core exercise that does not require much strenuous activity. You perform it by lying on your back, you bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. While tightening your abs, you must press your back into the floor and tilt your pelvis upward.
This is another important exercise to overcome erectile dysfunction.
- Lying on your back with your arms resting at your sides, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the floor.
- Your feet are kept shoulder-width apart.
- Having your shoulders and neck in a relaxed position, you lift your hips up off the floor.
- When you get more experience in the movement you can try pressing your knees together.
Top 3 exercises to do at the gym (with gym equipment)
Kettlebell Sumo deadlift
Initially, you place a Kettlebell on the floor with the handle pointing up and you stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder- width apart with the Kettlebell between your legs. You try to point your toes outwards by about 45-50 degrees. Then, you push your hips back and bend at the knees. You try to keep your back straight, lean your upper body forwards and grab the handles using an overhand grip. Press your heels into the floor and drive your hips forwards while extending at your knees. Continue to drive your hips until your body moves to an upright standing position. Make sure to keep your weight on the heels and do not shift forward onto the balls of your feet. The last movement is to push your hips backward, bend at your knees and lean forwards returning the kettlebell back to the floor.
Seated hip-adduction machine
You must sit in the hip adduction machine and place your extended legs on the external side of the leg pads. Pull the machine lever to position your legs apart until you feel a slight stretch but not too much. Push against the leg pads to move your legs inward, then slowly move them back to the starting position keeping the control of the motion.
Squats belong to the exercises that involve many muscles and help to strengthen the core, the glutes, the pelvic muscles, even the arms. You start in a standing position with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a weight up to the chest. Movement: You push your hips back and bend your knees to lower your weight – making sure to keep your weight in your heels and not the toes. You lower until your legs are parallel (or lower) to the floor, and then drive back up to stand.
Tips to ensure you activate the pelvic muscles
It is important to involve the pelvic floor muscles to the maximum possible degree. To achieve this:
- Focus on the muscles at the bottom of the pelvis contracting them and avoiding the contraction of other muscles
- Perform the exercises slowly with absolute control of the movement.
4-day erection training plan
Despite exercises that target the muscles of the pelvic floor, erectile dysfunction can be improved when male hormone levels are increased. Therefore, you are advised to try some exercises that increase your strength and muscle mass to improve your male hormone levels.
Always when you train, try to keep in mind the first set of each exercise to be light so that the body warms up to do the motion later with more weights. Because the ideal frequency for weight training for male hormone boost is 3-4 times per week, I would suggest the following split of body parts:
- Day 1: Chest and biceps
- Day 2: Legs and abs
- Day 3: Shoulders and triceps
- Day 4: Back and forearms
It would be better if you manage to have a day off between the training days.
Because you try to gain strength and build muscle mass, I suggest 2-3 exercises per body part, with 4 sets for each exercise, 8-12 reps per set.
It is important -no matter of the training body part- that your breaks between sets are between 60-90 seconds so that you manage to recover and be able to lift heavy weights.
I exercise, yet I still have ED. Why?
Erectile dysfunction can be a result of several factors and solving one of the possible contributing problems like sedentary lifestyle, might not improve the ED to a satisfying degree. Additionally, you might need a different training program than the suggested one. This is the point that our clinic can help you by providing targeting personalised solutions. Our multidisciplinary team consists of experienced male health doctors, dieticians, pharmacists, psychologists, and other multidisciplinary medical professionals can evaluate your personal needs and provide the most effective way to achieve an improved sexual life and performance at any age.
All these exercises mentioned above may help with alleviating erectile dysfunction. There are studies mentioned that generally any exercise can help with it. However, erectile dysfunction is due to multiple factors and sometimes, exercising alone would not be enough to make it all go away. It would be best to improve lifestyle choices and consult with a doctor if the erectile dysfunction proves to be bothersome and problematic.
- Cohen, D., Gonzalez, J. and Goldstein, I., 2016. The Role of Pelvic Floor Muscles in Male Sexual Dysfunction and Pelvic Pain. Sexual Med. Reviews, 4(1), pp.53-62. https://www.smr.jsexmed.org/article/S2050-0521(15)00002-5/pdf
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- La Vignera, S., Condorelli, R., Vicari, E., D’Agata, R. and Calogero, A., 2011. Physical Activity and Erectile Dysfunction in Middle-Aged Men. Journal of Andrology, 33(2), pp.154-161.
- Maiorino MI, Bellastella G, Esposito K. Lifestyle modifications and erectile dysfunction: what can be expected?. Asian J Androl 2015;17:5-10
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- Van Kampen, M., De Weerdt, W., Claes, H., Feys, H., De Maeyer, M. and Van Poppel, H., 2003. Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction by Perineal Exercise, Electromyographic Biofeedback, and Electrical Stimulation. Physical Therapy, 83(6), pp.536-543.
- Publishing, H., n.d. 5 Natural Ways To Overcome Erectile Dysfunction – Harvard Health. [online] Harvard Health. Available at: <https://www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/5-natural-ways-to-overcome-erectile-dysfunction> [Accessed 28 August 2020].