3 Exercises for Dealing with ED
A man getting aroused unleashes a maelstrom of chemicals, nervous system signals, altered blood flow and brain activity, all of which results in an erection. If any one of these systems or physical functions goes awry, problems can occur.
It’s important to point out that erectile dysfunction (ED)—the consistent inability to get and keep an erection firm enough for sex—has numerous potential medical causes, including:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Prostate cancer
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Alcohol abuse
Other issues, such as fluctuations in testosterone levels, problems with blood flow, nerve damage and psychological hurdles, can also contribute to ED. This is why it’s essential to address erectile dysfunction with a well-rounded approach that incorporates the entire body.
Exercise has proved to be a significant help for men who suffer from ED. One study carried out in the United Kingdom showed that for 40 percent of men, pelvic floor exercises alone helped them regain normal erectile function, and 35.5 percent of their cohorts reported erectile improvement.
Kegels, or pelvic floor exercises
Women have long known about Kegel exercises, a form of pelvic floor exercise, but men can benefit from them, too.
Kegels target the bulbocavernosus (BC) muscle that is found along the pelvic floor. It is the muscle responsible for helping you clear the urethra after urinating. Most important, for arousal purposes, the BC muscle allows the penis to engorge with blood and create a strong erection. It’s also what pumps semen during ejaculation. Making sure the BC muscle is strong can go a long way toward giving you an erection you can hang your hat on.
First, locate the pelvic floor muscles by experimenting with stopping your urine stream several times the next time you urinate. These are the same muscles you want to flex during the exercises. It’s important to note that when you actually perform a Kegel, your bladder should always be empty. “Holding it” is not a habit you want to form.
For a beginner-level set of Kegels, clench the pelvic floor muscles for five seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 to 20 times, and do this two or three times per day. Be sure to breathe throughout the exercise and focus correctly on the pelvic floor muscles—don’t clench your stomach, buttocks or thighs.
It may be difficult at first to hit 10 reps, but as you practice the action and strengthen these vital muscles, the exercises will become more manageable.
Giddy urologist Dr. Edwin Morales shares some guidance about Kegel exercises in the ED Guide Video Series. Click here to watch the video.
Even mild aerobic exercise, such as walking for 30 minutes a day four times a week, can improve erectile function for some men, according to a study from the American Journal of Cardiology. A meta-study of 10 previous studies on the impact of physical activity on erectile function concluded that 160 minutes of aerobic exercise per week has a significant effect on alleviating erectile dysfunction for some men.
What’s more, aerobic exercises such as running, cycling, rowing, jumping rope, boxing or spin class contribute to overall health in specific ways that can affect erections.
Conditions such as obesity, poor circulation, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are all known to contribute to ED.
The better the shape of your body, the better the shape of your erection, as well.
Pilates is a low-impact exercise program that organically incorporates several exercises you can do at home to benefit erectile function directly:
- Knee fall-outs. To do this exercise, lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Place your fingers on your hips and tighten your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. Then drop one knee to the side while maintaining hip stability. Return your knee to upright and repeat 10 to 20 times with each leg.
- Supine leg raises. Lie flat on your back with one leg extended in front of you and the other knee bent with your foot on the floor. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles and abs and slowly lift your extended leg to a 45-degree angle. Hold for five seconds with your toes pointed at the ceiling and then lower it. Repeat five to 10 times with each leg.
- Pelvic curl or glute bridge. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the floor, hands by your sides. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles and lift your buttocks, resting your weight on your shoulders. Tighten your buttocks and continue to engage your pelvic floor muscles before returning to the start position as you exhale. Repeat five to 10 times.
While erectile dysfunction is a complex issue with a lot of moving parts, it’s important you take whatever control you can, and exercise is a really significant first step in the right direction.