Can Lack Of Exercise Cause Erectile Dysfunction And A Low Libido?

If you don’t exercise enough, you are likely to have to deal with erectile dysfunction and a low libido

And if you are overweight, these problems are likely to be even worse.


Because no or little exercise causes your bloodflow to slow down. 

Exercise on the other hand, improves and strengthens bloodflow

Exercise does this by cleaning up waste from your blood vessels, making your blood pure, increasing testosterone levels, improving nitric oxide production, increases insulin sensitivity, and more.

And proper bloodflow is essential for getting and maintaining erections.

Exercise Can Boost Your Libido And Cure Your Erectile Dysfunction

We all know that exercise is something we should do often. It’s good for our hearts and our brains, it lowers the risk of many ailments, it makes us generally feel better, etc. 

But what most people might not know, is that exercise can have a very positive impact on our sex-lives

It may actually significantly improve a man’s libido and his ability to perform sexually.

In fact, there is hardly any other ‘thing’ that is better for a healthy sex-life and proper erectile functioning than exercise.

And the flip side is that a lack of exercise is often the number one cause of erectile dysfunction and low libido.

Here is how it works:

In order for a man to get an erection, his penis needs to be filled with blood. Therefore, proper bloodflow in the body and to the penis is essential to get this erection.

Anything that impedes blood flowing through the body is likely to have a negative effect on the ability to get and maintain an erection.

And what exercise does, is to improve this crucial bloodflow.

We will get to the exact details about this in a little. But let me first tell you about my experience with exercise, erectile dysfunction and libido.

My Experience With Exercise, Erectile Dysfunction And Libido

The body is an extremely sophisticated and complex system, and as soon as it is given sub-optimal care, or it finds itself in a sub-optimal condition, certain functions will normally stop working properly.

What I have learned, is that when my body is out of balance, these are two of the first ‘things’ to happen:

  • I have very little interest in sex, and
  • I have big problems getting erections.

Although I currently exercise every day, there have been times when I did not.

There have been periods of my life where I have not been able to exercise, either due to physical injuries or due to working too much.

During these periods (that lasted for a few weeks or months), I have not only gotten out of shape and lost muscle, but I have also experienced both weaker sex drive and more troubles getting erections.

For instance this time:

After graduating from university, I took a finance job in New York City. I ended up working insane hours, often sitting at my desk past midnight, and normally working weekends and holidays as well.

I was sitting on my butt in front of a monitor crunching numbers and putting together presentations all day long. And I hardly had any time at all to exercise.

Btw, the modern human being sits on his butt for more than 9 hours every day, and this is not good. There is even a medical term called sitting disease which describes what happens to our bodies when we sit too much.

If I were lucky I would get one session of exercise a week – normally a football (soccer) pickup game on Sunday.

This new sedentary lifestyle was probably a shock to my body, because my body was used to exercise almost every day.

My first encounter with erectile dysfunction happened after working like this for a little over a year. During this year, I had practically stopped exercising.

The first time I couldn’t get it up..?

I was naked in bed with a girl but I just couldn’t get it up! Despite herculean efforts from the girl, I was not able to get an erection.

It happened once and then twice, and then again. And then it seemed like my penis was just permanently dead. She got hurt and upset. I was shocked and lost. What on earth was going on!? Why didn’t my body work the way it used to?

The second time I had a long break from exercise, was also job related, but several years later..

I was again in a new job where I spent all day and night in the office. I worked like a monkey and had little time for recreational activities and sports.

My erectile dysfunction again got severe. The only way I was able to have sex at this time was with the help of pharmaceutical drugs.

However, I need to say that during these two times when I worked a lot, I also didn’t sleep much, I didn’t eat particularly healthy, my stress levels were high, and I didn’t get any sunshine.

Therefore, it was probably a combination of more than one factor. But I do believe that the lack of exercise contributed significantly to my severe struggles with erectile dysfunction as well as a lackluster sex drive.

Let’s get into the details about why exercise is so beneficial for sexual functions.

Why Is Exercise So Good For Overcoming ED And Libido Problems?

There are several reasons why exercise is beneficial for sexual health and for you to be able to perform sexually at a peak level.

However, the red thread that goes through all of the points related to exercise is one very crucial point:

Improved bloodflow.

Because proper bloodflow is essential for you to get and maintain an erection. And poor bloodflow is likely to cause erectile dysfunction and a weak libido.

The following are the key reasons why exercise is so beneficial in improving your bloodflow and thereby helping you overcome erectile dysfunction and improve your libido.

When you exercise, you:

Exercise Strengthens The Cardiovascular System

When you exercise, your heart and lungs work extra hard to supply blood containing nutrients and oxygen to the muscles, organs and tissues.

Your heart and lungs work extra hard because your muscles, organs and tissues need more oxygen and nutrients for the increased level of effort.

As this happens, the heart, the muscles, the blood vessels, the red blood cells, etc., all grow in size or number as these adjust to a life of increased output and intensity.

Your blood vessels get to expand and contract, they become soft and flexible and get trained to handle larger amounts of bloodflow.

This also improves the ability of muscles to utilize oxygen and nutrients, cleans up dirt and waste from the arteries, and overall ensures that the heart, lungs and other vital organs are maintained.

The result is that your cardiovascular system is strengthened, improved and trained to handle increased levels of blood flowing through your body.

Exercise Increases Your Blood Vessels Ability To Produce Nitric Oxide

The interior surface of the arteries are lined with special cells called endothelial cells. The lining of these cells is collectively called the endothelium.

Endothelial cells act as selective filters that regulate which gases, fluids and other molecules can enter and exit the blood vessels.

Another very important function of the endothelial cells is their ability to produce a gas called nitric oxide.

When your blood vessels need to expand in order to transport more blood, your endothelial cells produce nitric oxide which causes your blood vessels to dilate (expand).

This happens anywhere in the body.

But let’s talk about what happens in the penis.

When your penis is in a flaccid state, something called the smooth muscles in your penis are in a state of contraction.

When in contraction, they clench around the blood vessels and therefore squeeze blood out of the penis.

Blood Vessels Erection

When nitric oxide is released into these smooth muscles, the smooth muscles start to relax and hence give up the tight grip around the blood vessels. Blood is then allowed to flow into your penis and an erection can form.

So why is exercise good for nitric oxide production?

Not only is more nitric oxide produced when a person performs some form of physical exercise, but exercise also improves the ability of the endothelium to produce nitric oxide.

Exercise ensures that the endothelial cells are being pushed and tested, and in doing so, trains them to produce even more nitric oxide than before.

So that next time nitric oxide is needed, your body can produce even more of it.

More nitric oxide = more bloodflow = better erections. To learn more about nitric oxide on Truelibido, please go here.

Exercise Rebuilds Small Veins And Capillaries

When you exercise and push your body, let’s say you’re training hard to improve your time on a 10 kilometer run, your body will flush more blood through your existing veins.

But it will also start expanding, rebuilding and creating new veins and capillaries throughout the body.

This is referred to as angiogenesis.

The body does this in response to a need for more blood to be transported throughout the body for the increased level of physical effort.

Therefore as you exercise more and better, you improve your body’s ability to transport blood.

Through exercise, you get an improved and even more complex system of highways, roads and side streets of blood vessels through which the body can transport oxygen, nutrients, waste and other components.

Exercise Increases Testosterone Levels

Exercise, and particularly high intensity exercise, will normally lead to a transient spike in testosterone levels, lasting up to about an hour after completing the exercise.

However there is more to the testosterone jump than just a transient increase.

There is also a long-term impact. Long-term, steady and patient exercise will typically also increase baseline testosterone levels.

In other words, consistent and long-term exercise such as interval training or team sports, will normally increase the steady-state testosterone level in your body.

The flipside of this?

Well, if you don’t exercise, you are more likely to have depressed testosterone levels.

And if you are overweight, your testosterone levels are also likely to be depressed.

Because fat cells contain an enzyme called aromatase, and the more overweight you are, the more you have of this enzyme.

Aromatase is an enemy to your testosterone because it converts it into estrogen.

And the more estrogen you produce, the more the testosterone / estrogen ratio get tilted out of balance, and the less effective your testosterone becomes.

Now that your testosterone is depressed or less effective, you are likely to lose more muscle. And with less muscle, it is even harder to burn excess fat.

Which means that you are likely to get more overweight.

Aromatase activity btw, is particularly prominent for abdominal fat. So if you have a ‘beer belly’, you are likely to have a good amount of aromatase going on.

In addition, if you are overweight, you are also likely to produce more cortisol. This cortisol tends to depress your testosterone so that your overall testosterone levels get even lower.

But the good news:

If you exercise more and become fitter, your testosterone levels will normally increase.

As your testosterone levels increase, you are likely to feel better, have more energy, you will normally experience a stronger libido, and you will likely also have more consistent erections.

To learn more about testosterone on Truelibido, please go here.

Exercise Enables The Body To Burn Excess Glucose [And Fructose]

When you eat, your body breaks down the food you consume into various molecules that can be absorbed by the intestines.

One important part of your food are carbohydrates. And one of the key molecules the body breaks down from carbohydrates is called glucose.

Glucose is a main energy source for the body.

However glucose can’t enter the cells as fuel without the help of a hormone called insulin. Insulin is needed by the cells in order to absorb glucose.

When the level of glucose in the blood rises after a meal, the pancreas is instructed to manufacture insulin so that the glucose can be used as energy by the cells.

Any glucose floating around in the bloodstream that is not used as energy by the cells, is normally converted to glycogen by insulin and stored in the liver and muscles for later use.

If a person consumes too much glucose, or if the insulin is not able to (quickly enough) convert the glucose to glycogen, the person will have elevated levels of glucose in the blood, which is a condition called hyperglycemia.

Some of this excess glucose is then likely to get stuck to the inside walls of your blood vessels. When this gets severe, you have the condition called atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is a condition where glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, white blood cells, calcium and other substances build up and form a layer of plaque inside the artery walls.

Hyperglycemia can also cause inflammation of the blood vessels.

When the blood vessels are inflamed, glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, white blood cells, calcium and other substances (plaque) more easily attach to the inner walls of the blood vessels because these walls get sticky and uneven.

When there is plaque coating the inside of your blood vessels (coating the endothelial cells) these cells will find it more difficult to produce nitric oxide.

This build-up of plaque inside the blood vessels then narrows the arteries. In response to this narrowing, the arteries expand to ensure that the same amount of blood is allowed to travel through the arteries as before.

However, this expansion causes great strain on the arteries in the long-term.

The plaque also makes the arteries stiffer. This makes the arteries less able to expand when your body needs increased bloodflow, for instance during exercise of physical effort.

Atherosclerosis Erectile Dysfunction

When the arteries are stiffer, they are also more prone to rupture and get damaged.

But there is more:

When a portion of plaque is ripped up and taken away by the bloodstream, this particle may cause clogging of a narrower artery somewhere else.

In addition, when plaque is ripped up, the blood vessel may rapture. A ruptured blood vessel will normally have difficulties working properly.

In the end, when atherosclerosis gets severe enough, the blood vessels can’t expand anymore to counter the plaque build-up, and bloodflow is diminished.

But exercise can help..

Exercise increases the need for energy, and therefore also the need for glucose.

Therefore, exercise causes the body to burn glucose, and as a result, glucose levels will decrease.

This will normally reverse hyperglycemia and therefore also hyperglycemia-induced atherosclerosis.

Therefore, exercise can restore the glucose balance in your blood, and also over time, the negative consequences caused by excess glucose.

Exercise Makes The Body More Sensitive To Insulin

As we already know, in order for cells to use glucose as energy, they need insulin. Insulin unlocks the cells so that the glucose can enter.

When there is too much glucose in your blood, your insulin can get exhausted and less efficient at processing glucose. This is called insulin resistance.

If you suffer from insulin resistance or if you have too much glucose in your blood, exercise can get you back in balance.

Firstly, exercise makes the body use more glucose as energy, simply because the body needs more energy to do the exercise. This reduces the amount of glucose in the blood.

Secondly, exercise also makes the cells more sensitive to insulin.

This means that you get a boost in the effectiveness of the cells ability to use insulin, which enables the cells to absorb more glucose.

Exercise Increases Your Ability To Produce Nitric Oxide

If you have excess glucose levels in your blood, you will also normally have reduced amounts of nitric oxide.

This is because as a response to elevated levels of glucose, your body will typically produce a molecule called superoxide.

Superoxide is a free radical, and as such is highly reactive with other elements, such as nitric oxide.

When superoxide is exposed to nitric oxide, the two will normally react with each other, and as a result, nitric oxide will be eliminated.

Hence, when there is lots of superoxide, there will be less nitric oxide.

Because exercise will normally lead to an increase in your glucose metabolism, exercise will therefore also normally reduce your levels of superoxide.

As a result, you will typically have higher levels of nitric oxide.

Causes Cholesterol Levels To Decrease

Cholesterol has a bad reputation. It’s because cholesterol can cause cardiovascular problems. But cholesterol doesn’t deserve this bad reputation.

Because you need a healthy level of cholesterol to survive and live well.

Cholesterol is found in every cell of the body. It is also an essential structural component of cell membranes, and is a precursor of steroid hormones, bile acids, and vitamin D.

Its substance is waxy or fat-like, and because it’s oil-based, it doesn’t mix with the blood, which is water-based. It is therefore carried around the blood by something called lipoproteins.

There are two kinds of lipoproteins: Low-density lipoprotein (‘LDL’) (cholesterol carried by this type is known as ‘bad’ cholesterol), and high-density lipoprotein (‘HDL’) (cholesterol carried by this type is known as ‘good’ cholesterol).

Cholesterol carried by LDL is called ‘bad’ because it floats around in the bloodstream looking for something to do. If it can’t find anything productive to do, it will often be deposited on the wall of a blood vessel as plaque.

This can eventually lead to atherosclerosis if the plaque buildup becomes substantial. Atherosclerosis at an advanced stage will normally reduce bloodflow and may therefore lead to erectile dysfunction.

Cholesterol carried by HDL is called ‘good’ because it is on its way to the liver for destruction.

If you have more cholesterol in your blood than you should, your blood will be thicker and flow less smoothly. This can also contribute to higher blood pressure.

So how can exercise reduce your cholesterol levels?

Exercise will make your body burn energy.

This will cause your body to need larger amounts of ‘bad’ cholesterol, so your levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol will go down.

Adequate exercise will stop the build-up of cholesterol plaque. In addition, sufficient exercise will also normally reverse this cholesterol plaque and clean up your blood vessels.

Also, when the cholesterol plaque is reduced, you have less ‘stuff’ covering your endothelial cells. Which in turn means that it will be easier for these cells to produce nitric oxide.

Exercise Reduces High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the flow of blood is pushing harder against the artery walls then what is normal.

High blood pressure is typically caused by either a thickening of the blood, or a narrowing of the arteries (or both).

Either factor will need the heart to pump harder to push the blood around the body.

The specific factor that causes blood to thicken or arteries to narrow can be one out of several, such as old age, genetics, excess body fat, diabetes, smoking, alcohol, salt, stress and several other factors.

If blood pressure is elevated over long periods of time, this high pressure may damage the endothelial lining of the blood vessels.

If this endothelial lining is damaged, plaque more easily builds up along the artery wall, and this may cause atherosclerosis

Also, if the endothelial is damaged, its ability to produce nitric oxide get reduced.

Exercise can significantly improve or even normalize, your blood pressure.

Exercise cleans up your blood and burns away glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides and other ‘stuff’ that is making your blood thicker.

Exercise also helps trim and push your blood vessels and help flush away plaque build up inside the veins, hence cleaning up the veins as well.

The end result? Better and healthier blood pressure.

Exercise Reduces Triglycerides Levels

First off, what are triglycerides?

Triglycerides are basically fat.

When you eat, you will normally eat more calories than you need at that very moment.

These calories that you don’t need to use right away, including non-fat calories such as carbohydrates and protein, are then converted into triglycerides.

These triglycerides are then stored in your fat cells. When you need energy later (between your meals), these triglycerides are released and burned to provide energy.

If you regularly eat more calories than you burn, you are likely to store these triglycerides and therefore gain weight as fat.

And we already know, weight gain can reduce your testosterone levels, increase estrogen levels, clog up arteries, etc., which in turn can lower your libido and make it more difficult for you to get erections.

If you have more triglycerides in your blood than you should, your blood will be thicker and flow less smoothly. This can also contribute to higher blood pressure.

High level of triglycerides are also associated with increased risk of blood clots and strokes.

High triglyceride levels are also associated with what is called inflammatory response.

Inflammatory response is an overactive immune system that can cause damage to cells, tissues and arteries.

This is turn is likely to cause bloodflow to be impaired, which can lead to erectile dysfunction when it gets severe enough.

When you exercise, you will need large amounts of energy. Some of this energy will be taken from fat reserves, and will therefore lead to a reduction in triglycerides.

Therefore, if you have elevated triglyceride levels, exercise can reduce and normalize these levels.

Let’s Not Forget About Fructose (And Sucrose)

Glucose, fructose and sucrose are three types of sugars that contain the same number of calories unit for unit.

These sugars are all found naturally in foods such as fruits, vegetables and grains but also added to many processed foods.

Fructose is naturally found in many fruits, honey and many root vegetables. It is also very often added to many food products in the form of high-fructose corn syrup.

Glucose can be absorbed directly by your intestines and then delivered to your cells as energy. If you consume more glucose than you need, this is converted to glycogen by insulin and stored in the liver and muscles for later use.

If there is a continuous excess of glucose in your blood, some of this will also be converted to triglycerides and stored in your fat cells.

Fructose on the other hand, needs to first be converted to glucose by your liver before it can be used as energy. If you consume more fructose than your liver can process, this is converted to triglycerides and cholesterol.

Sucrose [link] is simply a sugar consisting of one glucose and one fructose molecule, and therefore also needs to be broken down before it can be used as energy.


Consuming excessive amounts of fructose or sucrose, is also likely to make your blood thicker, increase your triglycerides levels, increase LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), and increase superoxide levels.

As we know, all of these are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease [link], they can clog up arteries and diminish bloodflow throughout the body.

Before we end, let’s finish off with a few final words about exercise.

Final Worlds On Exercise

As we have just learned, there are a number of reasons why exercise has a positive effect on your ability to get and maintain erections, as well as your libido.

However, although there are several – let’s call them ‘indirect reasons’ – for this, the underlying and crucial point is this:

Exercise provides increased and improved bloodflow in your body and in your penis.

And let’s again remind ourselves why proper bloodflow is so important:

In order for your penis to get erect, it needs to fill with blood.

Therefore, a sufficient amount of blood needs to flow to your penis, it needs to build and sustain pressure in your penis, and this amount of blood and pressure need to remain until you have completed the intercourse successfully.

This may sound simple and straightforward, but without proper bloodflow, it will be very difficult.

Without proper bloodflow, you are likely to not get an erection in the first place, or only a semi erection. And without proper bloodflow, it will be very difficult for you to maintain the erection during intercourse.

Most forms of regular exercise such as running, swimming, biking, interval training, weight lifting, team sports, etc. will typically have these positive effects on your bloodflow.

And both aerobic exercise such as long distance running, cycling, swimming and walking, as well as anaerobic exercise such as high intensity workouts, sprints and weightlifting, will normally have beneficial effects.

Yes walking.

Even regular walking will have a very positive effect on your body overall and your bloodflow. Walking is in fact a super healthy activity that can get you very far in getting your body back in shape.

How Do I Exercise Today?

Throughout my life, I have almost always played sports and been active.

As a kid and young adult, I would play team-sports, bike everywhere, climb trees and generally live an active life.

Currently, this is the exercise I do:

Every day, at around 13:00, I run to the park or the beach close to where I live (10 minute run), and I do strength exercises for about half an hour.

This consists of exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, squats, jumps, dips, hand-stands, sprints, pull-ups, leg-raises, etc.

Two or three times a week, I also do long-runs consisting of 10k or more.

Also two or three times a week, I do group interval training. This consists of high intensity strength exercises.

In addition, I normally play tennis, football or badminton once a week.

And I walk a lot. Normally more than one hour every day.

Lastly, I also try to have sex a few times every week. I count this as exercise as well 🙂

So to summarize:

I normally exercise every day, and oftentimes twice a day. My goal is to get at least two hours of exercise (walking counts as exercise) done every day.

These two hours consists of at least one hour of high intensity exercise, such as tennis, strength exercise or running.

And the other hour consists of walking. Walking is amazing exercise, and I try to get at least one hour of walking done every day, but more if possible.

How Much Should You Exercise To Avoid Erectile Dysfunction?

Your body is different to mine. But it is also pretty similar. I have discovered through a lot of testing and experimentation, that about 2 hours of exercise works incredibly well for my body (and mind).

This amount of exercise keeps me in shape. It keeps me sharp. It makes me feel young. And above all, it makes me function very well sexually.

Therefore, based on my experience – I believe – assuming that your body is similar to mine, that this is an appropriate amount of exercise in order to avoid erectile dysfunction, and also to keep a strong libido:

Every day: One hour of high intensity exercise such as badminton, running, swimming or strength exercise + at least one hour of walking.

Walking can be fast walking or simply regular strolling.

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