The benefits of exercise are wide-ranging and well known, but here’s a quick recap:
- it’s good for the heart and vascular system;
- it helps maintain a healthy weight range;
- it reduces the risk of several serious illnesses including Type 2 diabetes, stroke and cancer;
- it boosts mental health and mood;
- and it improves energy levels.
So you might think of exercise as a bit like a wonder vitamin. Exercising moderately for two-and-a-half to five hours a week, or rigorously for 75 to 150 minutes a week, is enough to lower serious risk and keep you fit.
And do you know what else exercise is great for? Erections. That’s because ED is often caused by vascular problems, which interferes with your ability to get or maintain an erection. And exercise is good for your vascular health.
Cardio and erections
Cardio, otherwise known as aerobic exercise, is physical activity ‘relating to, involving, or requiring free oxygen.’ It’s low to high intensity exercise that raises the heart and breathing rate. In the gym, you might have heard of ‘cardio’ machines. Examples include the treadmill, elliptical and cycling machines.
But you don’t need to go to the gym for a good cardio workout. Other examples include brisk walking, jogging and running, and erectile dysfunction symptoms can benefit over time from these simple cardio exercises (as well as from many others).
Regular cardio over time helps your overall cardiovascular function and health improve, and it also helps to increase blood flow to the penile tissue and muscles (called the corpus cavernosum.)
This is because erections depend on good vascular health and blood flow. Research shows that men with higher levels of physical activity report less symptoms of impotence.
It’s also well known that regular aerobic exercise improves mental health and overall mood. This is because the body produces endorphins when you exercise. This too can benefit erectile dysfunction: particularly when it’s caused by psychological factors like anxiety or depression.
Strength training and erections
So we’ve covered cardio, but what about strength exercises?
You can think of exercise as two sides of one coin. It’s important that we strike a good balance between aerobic exercise and strength exercise, or resistance training.
Strength exercises are those which target the muscles and build strength and endurance. It’s often associated with weights, but can be defined in three ways:
- Calisthenics: Calisthenic exercise helps build muscle and target key areas, without depending on anything except your own body weight. Examples include pull-ups, push-ups and chin-ups.
- Isometrics: Isometric exercises involve static contraction of muscle groups without visible movement in the angle of a joint. Examples include the plank and glute bridges.
- Plyometrics: Plyometric exercise, also known as jump training, happens when the muscles exert high force in short bursts of time. Examples include skipping and jump squats.
These exercises and resistance training groups are designed to build muscle and endurance, but most of them will also raise the heart rate and breathing. This can help with ED, because – that’s right – good erections depend on good blood flow and circulation.
Strength exercise also impacts testosterone levels, in some cases causes the body to produce more, and testosterone plays a pretty important role in libido.
Can yoga and meditation help with erections?
Yoga is an ancient form of low-intensity exercise which focuses on strength, stretching and breathing. It’s long been claimed that yoga benefits mental health and mood.
Meditation ‘focuses one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.’
But how effective are these techniques, and can they help with erectile dysfunction? Yoga will require some form of physical exertion, which will help with circulation and blood flow (especially when performed regularly). This, in turn, can help with the symptoms of impotence.
But what about meditation for erectile dysfunction? Well, it’s less about the physical and more about the mental. This is because a lot of meditation is about (through practice) letting go of worry and stress. It’s about becoming comfortable with yourself and your mind.
This might not sound like your thing, but there is some evidence that meditation can help with ED. One study found that ‘mindfulness group therapy framework offers a feasible and potentially promising treatment avenue for men with situational ED.’