Exercises That Can Help Combat Erectile Dysfunction
There normally isn’t just one cause of erectile dysfunction (ED). Heart problems, diabetes, obesity and hormonal factors can contribute to a man’s inability to get and maintain an erection, so too can anxiety, depression, and stress. But just like there isn’t one singular cause of ED, there isn’t just one option for treating it.
Apart from ED medications, healthy lifestyle habits like regular exercise can also be part of the solution. Here are some exercises to consider to prime your penis.
These probably aren’t part of your regular “leg day”, but exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor, commonly known as “Kegel exercises”, have shown some promise in restoring healthy erectile function. Without knowing it, you engage your pelvic muscles on a daily basis during urination. The best way to focus on your pelvic muscles is to notice how it feels to stop urinating after you’ve started, or those used when you’re trying not to pass gas.
Once you’re clear on what’s what, lie down on the floor and contract these muscles for three seconds and then relax them for three seconds. Avoid flexing your abs and legs to get the most out of your exercise, and make sure to breathe freely. Start off with three sets of 10 reps, one per day and progress from there. You can also do these exercises while standing or even walking.
One study that was cited in a 2019 comprehensive review of treatment options for ED showed 75% of men who were shown how to properly perform pelvic strengthening exercises experienced improvements in their erectile function after six months — with 40% regaining full erectile function.
Research has shown that cardiovascular disease and erectile dysfunction are closely interrelated. Aerobic exercises, including low-impact activities like walking, can do wonders for both. A Harvard University study showed that walking for as little as 30 minutes a day can decrease the risk of ED by up to 41%. Another study showed that daily exercise of 2.5 hours per day or more was highly associated with better erectile function.
If you’re looking for something a bit more intensive than walking, try other exercises that get your heart pumping, like jogging, rowing, boxing or cycling. But be mindful of cycling for too long on an uncomfortable seat. Pressure applied between men’s private areas when coming into contact with a bike seat can reduce blood flow to the penis and cause temporary or even long-lasting ED. (And try to avoid low blows in the boxing ring.)
Keeping with the theme of having a pelvic region, activities like Pilates and power yoga can help strengthen some of the muscles in and around your penis. The “bridge” pose in yoga, also known as a “pelvic curl” in Pilates, starts by lying on the ground with bent knees. With your hands by your sides and knees bent, engage your pelvis and lift your butt in the air, keeping your weight on your shoulders. Tighten your butt while in the air and lower it down slowly. Repeat several times to get the full effect.
Staying fit will support your overall cardiovascular health and give you a better chance at staving off erectile dysfunction. A man with a 42-inch waist is 50% more likely to have ED than one with a 32-inch waist. This is because obesity and inactivity are both strongly linked to erectile dysfunction. Being active and eating a healthy diet full of whole foods are two ways you can help keep your erections healthy and hard.
Of course, changes to diet and exercise aren’t always enough to reverse erectile dysfunction. If you’re noticing an ability to get and maintain an erection firm enough for sex, talk to a doctor. There are plenty of treatment options available, and you don’t have to do it on your own.