Erectile dysfunction is a serious problem for many men, especially as they get older. A review and analysis of 11 well-done studies looking at whether exercise helps with erectile dysfunction found that YES, it does.
They found that exercising for at least 30 minutes three times a week can be just as effective as Viagra and Cialis at improving erectile dysfunction (ED). Also, the worse the ED at the start of a study, the more exercise helped.
What were the exercises? Any aerobic activities that got the heart pumping, such as cycling, tennis, or brisk walking. In the studies looked at, the exercise sessions were typically 30 to 60 minutes, and occurred 3 to 5 times a week. Some studies had the men exercise on their own, while other studies had the men attend supervised exercise sessions.
Bottom line: Exercise improved ED in all men! It didn't matter what the men weighed, their medication use - it helped them all. (Examples of earlier studies looking at exercise and physical activity helping improve ED.)
This could be because ED is considered a measure of a man's overall heart health. When there is heart disease, inflammation, and narrowing or hardening of the arteries - then ED increases. Physical activity, on the other hand, improves health, including heart disease.
Excerpts from Medscape: Exercise as Good as Viagra for ED: Study
Exercising for at least 30 minutes three times a week can be just as effective as Viagra and similar medications at improving erectile function, according to a new analysis of the best research to date on aerobic exercise and erectile function.
The study, published this month in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, found that aerobic activities – such as walking or cycling – improved erectile function in all men with erectile dysfunction, regardless of body weight, overall health, or medication use. Men with the most severe erectile dysfunction saw the greatest benefit.
"This study provides physicians and patients the proof needed to definitively recommend aerobic activity as part of ED management," said study author Larry E. Miller, PhD.
Doctors have long known that erectile function is linked to cardiovascular health, but there is limited high-quality evidence on the impact of exercise on the disorder.
The researchers scoured the scientific literature and found 11 randomized, controlled trials – a gold-standard study design where participants are randomly assigned to receive an intervention or not. Of the 1,100 men involved in the studies, 600 were assigned to "experimental" groups that typically exercised for 30 to 60 minutes, three to five times a week, while 500 were assigned to "control" groups with no exercise plan.
The worse the ED was, the more exercise helped, the researchers found. On a standardized scale of 6 to 30, men with severe ED who exercised reported a 5-point improvement in erectile function. Those with mild and moderate ED saw improvements of 2 and 3 points, respectively.
Erectile dysfunction can often be traced to the same causes as cardiovascular disease, including inflammation, a narrowing of the arteries (endothelial dysfunction), or a hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).