Can’t get it up? You’re not alone. Just as life has ups and downs, a large portion of the male population will experience erectile ups and downs. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the most common sexual issue men of all ages face, and while some ED treatments are more popular than others, like prescription medication, there are many available treatment options. Increasingly, doctors are recommending exercise as a form of treatment or in combination with other treatments for ED. If you’re looking for a natural way to address ED, exercises for erectile dysfunction may be your secret weapon to a strong finish.
5 exercises for erectile dysfunction
Addressing ED often requires a multifaceted approach because many factors may cause or contribute to ED, but thankfully, most causes of ED are treatable. These five ED exercises may be the only prescription you need to manage or cure ED, and some of these exercises double to help prevent premature ejaculation.
1. Kegel exercises
Whoever did the PR for Kegels forgot to include that these pelvic floor exercises have been proven to reduce erectile dysfunction in men. The secret behind the success of Kegel exercises is that they help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
The muscles in the pelvic floor are responsible for regulating blood flow to the penis and keeping the blood there to maintain an erection. Kegel exercises for men help strengthen the perineal muscles, improve blood flow, and help with overall sexual function. A weak pelvic floor may contribute to ED as the muscles cannot contract to keep blood in the penis, resulting in difficulty gaining and maintaining an erection.
2. Pilates exercises
Many Pilates exercises effectively combat ED in the same way as Kegels; they help strengthen the pelvic floor. Pilates exercises also strengthen the stabilizing muscles around your pelvic floor, improving muscle control and awareness of the areas that need to be active to maintain an erection. Along with building strength in the pelvic region, Pilates exercises help stretch surrounding muscles that may be tight, as too much tension can also inhibit blood flow to the penis.
Some examples of good Pilates exercises for your pelvic floor include Pelvic Curls, Supine Kegels, and the Single Leg Stretch - but any Pilates exercise that engages your pelvic floor will help improve the blood flow in that region, so try a few and start a routine with whichever are the easiest and most comfortable for you.
3. Aerobic exercise
Many cases of ED stem from issues related to the cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular system impacts blood flow, and problems like the thinning of arteries and blood vessels can prevent sufficient amounts of blood from being transported throughout the entire body, including the penis. Simply put – the penis needs a lot of blood to operate – and any issues that impact blood flow may have a subsequent effect on erections.
Aerobic exercises are those that specifically target the heart and, by extension, the cardiovascular system as a whole. A 2018 study found that strengthening the heart and cardiovascular health promotes nitric oxide production, which has been proven to increase blood flow to the genitals.
Examples of aerobic exercise include running, swimming, cycling, rowing, or anything that gets the heart pumping and gets you breathing heavily. The CDC recommends healthy adults engage in 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. The CDC also notes that all 150 minutes don't have to be done all at once, and can be spread throughout the week.
Believe it or not, walking has been shown to have a noticeably positive effect on the heart, lungs, and pelvic floor, and – you guessed it – combating ED.
Improved lung capacity leads to higher oxygen content within the blood, which is vital for maintaining erections. A stronger heart and pelvic floor ensure that your body can pump blood to your penis and keep the blood there. In combination, these three things can have a dramatic cumulative effect on your ability to gain and maintain an erection.
For many people who may lack the mobility required for Pilates, or who may be unsure about more strenuous aerobic exercises, simply spending time walking around the house can have noticeable benefits. One study found that dedicating only 6 minutes a day to walking can drop the occurrence of ED by a staggering 71%!
5. General exercise
We're happy to report that any form of physical exercise can help fight erectile dysfunction. Weight gain and poor heart function are often tied to erectile dysfunction, as excessive weight creates additional pressure on the cardiovascular system, resulting in the heart struggling to pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the penis.
All forms of exercise have been shown to positively affect the cardiovascular system and weight loss, and consequentially ED. When it comes to improving your sexual health with exercise, there really is no wrong answer. If it inspires you to get moving and gets your heart pumping, it’s the right choice for you.
Alternatives to erectile dysfunction exercises
There are also a number of other options to be considered alongside exercise. While improved physical health helps significantly in reducing ED severity and frequency, combating ED can sometimes require a combination of exercise and other treatments. Here are a few more to consider:
• Prescription medication
Prescription medication, while not always suitable, is undoubtedly an effective treatment for many suffering from ED. Prescription medication shouldn’t be considered a long-term solution, but in the short term, it can help restore sexual confidence while you work with your doctor or healthcare practitioner to tackle the root of the issue.
• Lifestyle changes
ED can have a wide range of medical causes, but it can also result from our lifestyle choices. Activities like smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and insufficient sleep quality can affect our sexual health and function. Consider if there are any vices that could be contributing to your ED and try to eliminate them one by one. You may notice a big difference.
• A healthy diet
Diet and nutrition have a huge impact on every part of our bodies - including our sexual health. A 2020 study found diets rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts have a positive effect on sexual health and function. In contrast, diets heavy in processed meats, particularly red meat, and sugar, as tasty as they are, might not benefit your sexual health. While adopting a healthy, balanced diet helps in promoting overall good health, try these foods that help combat ED.
• Sex toys
Some sex toys are not only fun to use but can help with ED. A sex toy like the FDA-registered male vibrator, Tenuto 2, is one such sex toy. Along with doctor endorsement, Tenuto 2 has been clinically proven to help combat ED with its ergonomic design and strategically placed vibrations that increase blood flow to the penis and perineum and keep the blood there. Just when you thought this couldn’t get more exciting, Tenuto 2 is designed with partner pleasure in mind. When worn during sex, the same vibrations that increase circulation and sensation on the penis, also stimulate a partner’s vulva and clitoris – at the same time.
Movement is medicinal, especially when it comes to sexual health and function. When performed consistently and correctly, these exercises for erectile dysfunction can have a profound effect on our sex lives, confidence, and performance. The proof is in the fact that pelvic floor exercises, like Kegels, also help with premature ejaculation too! If you’re already active, but you’re still struggling with ED, check out other alternatives in how to treat ED without medication.