The study, published online in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, assessed the association between physical activity and erectile function in young, healthy men ages 18 to 40. Previous studies have suggested that erectile dysfunction in men under 40 is correlated with increased cardiovascular risks.
“The men in our study who exercised more seemed to experience a protective benefit against erectile dysfunction,” says Wayland Hsiao, MD, co-author of the study and assistant professor of urology, Emory University School of Medicine. “We hope that early screening for ED may be a gateway issue to help motivate young men to live healthily on a consistent basis so that they can possibly avoid health issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. We see this as just the beginning.”
For the study, a group of men ages 18 to 40 kept a record of their exercise and sexual function. Researchers found improved erectile function in men under 40 with increased exercise, as well as higher rates of sexual dysfunction in sedentary men under 40. The study also noted that men can start experiencing issues with erectile dysfunction as early as their 30s.
“Several studies have evaluated the relationship between exercise and erectile function in older or obese men,” says study co-author Chad W.M. Ritenour, MD, director of the Emory’s Men’s Health Center and associate professor of urology, Emory University School of Medicine. “Our goal with this particular study was to determine if there is a connection between increased exercise and better erectile function in younger men.”
Drs. Ritenour and Hsiao recommend that men follow the recommendations of the CDC and get at least two and a half hours of physical activity a week, ideally spread throughout the week. Also, men should eat a diet that includes variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat and alcohol.