Can Lack Of Exercise Cause 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.
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.
Here is how it works:
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.
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:
When you exercise, you:
- Strengthen your cardiovascular system
- Increase your blood vessels ability to produce nitric oxide
- Rebuild small veins and capillaries
- Increase testosterone levels
- Enable your body to burn excess glucose and fructose
- Make your body more sensitive to insulin
- Increase levels of nitric oxide
- Decrease cholesterol levels
- Reduce atherosclerosis
- Reduce high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Reduce triglycerides levels
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.
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
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.
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?
So that next time nitric oxide is needed, your body can produce even more of it.
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.
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.
But the good news:
If you exercise more and become fitter, your testosterone levels will normally increase.
Exercise Enables The Body To Burn Excess Glucose [And Fructose]
Glucose is a main energy source for the body.
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.
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.
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.
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 can restore the glucose balance in your blood, and also over time, the negative consequences caused by excess glucose.
Exercise Increases Your Ability To Produce Nitric Oxide
Causes Cholesterol Levels To Decrease
Because you need a healthy level of cholesterol to survive and live well.
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.
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.
Exercise Reduces High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
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.
Exercise can significantly improve or even normalize, your blood pressure.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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
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.
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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